Western Albemarle’s girls basketball team clearly wasn’t interested in being satisfied with making it into the state tournament, which comes as little surprise for a team that has made fearlessness and toughness part of their DNA.
The Warriors pushed the defending state champions Lord Botetourt to the edge Friday night before falling 40-35 at Roanoke College in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
“What an amazing ride,” said Western coach Kris Wright. “We’re disappointed with the ending because we came so close, but this team put together an incredible season.”
The loss ends Western’s season 25-4 and ends the career of a senior class led by Elisabeth Coffman that has steadily improved while piling up wins, culminating in this year’s run to a sweep of the Jefferson District regular season and tournament crowns including an unbeaten run through JD in the regular season. This group was the core the last two years on two squads that went 45-11 between the two years.
“Coaching them was easy,” Wright said. “They came in willing to work each day and had full ownership of their team. They supported each other. They knew what to do on the court. Beyond that, though, they’ve been great off the court. Our seniors all have better than a 4.0 weighted GPA. The team helped grow our preemies tournament to a record level. They’ve been inspirational to youth players in the area that have come to watch our games. They were just a joy to coach and I’m grateful to have been on the journey with them.”
The Warriors jumped out to a 16-10 lead on the Cavaliers in the first quarter, with Sydney Sherman scoring eight of her team-high 12 points in that opening frame. But the Warriors’ offense sputtered after that explosive start, and despite playing their usual stifling defense, they couldn’t hold off Botetourt, who managed to claw ahead in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers got a couple of huge 3-pointers from Jenna Alam and Brooklyn Shelton in the fourth as well as six points from Miette Veldman, who finished with 17 to lead Lord Botetourt. Alam had 10 on the night.
Sherman added eight rebounds and four blocks to her 12 points while Caity Driver also managed to grab eight boards. Elisabeth Coffman had seven rebounds and three assists for the Warriors. Ellie Plantz finished with five rebounds.