Spotswood coach Chris Dodson loaded his team’s early-season schedule with heavyweights on purpose.
That strategy certainly paid dividends for the Trailblazers on Tuesday as Spotswood rolled to a 76-49 road win over Harrisonburg in the Valley District opener for both teams in girls basketball action.
Junior guard Zoli Khalil led the way for the Blazers with a triple-double of 33 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists as Spotswood broke away from the Streaks in the second quarter and never looked back at Claude Warren Fieldhouse.
“Our season thus far, we haven’t looked very well,” said Dodson. “The teams we have played have a combined record of 38-4 and they exposed our weaknesses. We learned from that and the key tonight was the preparation we had this week.”
The game was back and forth in the opening period. The Blazers led 14-8 late in the period before Harrisonburg senior Mariah Cain banked a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 14-11 after one. Khalil led her team with five in the quarter.
The Blazers opened the second on a 8-0 run that was fueled by a strong defense and three baskets by Khalil. The Streaks were scoreless in the period until 3:38 left in the half. Senior Jay Garcia had seven points, including a 3-pointer, for Harrisonburg but Khalil finished the quarter with 13 points and Spotswood led comfortably 36-23 at the break.
The Blazers opened the third period with a 13-5 run that pushed the margin to 56-35 after three periods. Garcia and Cain each had six points in the third for the Streaks and four points each in the final period but it wasn’t enough.
In addition to Khalil’s big night, junior Brooke Morris had 13 points, freshman Madison Doss had 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists while sophomore Hailey Jones had seven rebounds and seven assists for a balanced Blazer attack.
“Playing tough competition has really helped us,” said Khalil, a 6-foot guard who already has multiple mid-major Division-I scholarship offers. “Our energy was really good tonight. We like to get out and run and they don’t so that really helped us tonight. Our goal is to win the district.”
Cain paced the Streaks with 18 points and five rebounds while Garcia added 15 points and eight boards. “We have to work on our defense,” Harrisonburg coach Tracy Harding said. “Zoli went to work in the second quarter. We didn’t shoot the ball well and we can’t give up that many points.”
Both teams continue district play this week as the Blazers (6-5, 1-0 Valley) are home on Thursday against Rockbridge County while the Streaks (5-6, 0-1 Valley) are at Turner Ashby on Friday.
“I’m very pleased and I told the team this is a new year, a new season and our goal is to be no. 1 in the district and, at least tonight, we are,” Dodson concluded."