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BA claim state tourney opener, then bow out

South Boston News
Kyleigh Capps looks for an opening during her team’s victory over Wakefield School in the first round VISAA state tournament game. / March 07, 2018
Banner Christian stands in way of postseason glory

A stellar season of basketball came to an end for Brunswick Academy last Wednesday as the girls lost 46-38 to Banner Christian School in the second round game of the VISAA (Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association) state tournament.

The BA girls traveled to The Steward School in Richmond for the second round one night after defeating first-round opponent Wakefield School in Lawrenceville, 56-40. In both games, the Lady Vikings turned in solid performances, albeit with different outcomes.

In the Tuesday night tournament opener in Lawrenceville, Wakefield coach Dominic Chisman brought his young team all the way from The Plains, with the goal of scoring an upset and continuing on in state competition.

Jamie Saunders, an all-around standout for BA, got the action rolling against Wakefield with the first bucket of the night at 7:15. It didn’t take long to pull out to a healthy lead, and they were never seriously threatened. Saunders closed out the scoring in the first quarter with a two-point bucket with 30 seconds left, and Wakefield trailed 12-6 as the second quarter began.

Three more baskets by Saunders and a three-point bucket by Haile Morton in the second quarter helped BA widen its lead to 35-17 at halftime.

The Lady Owls returned to the floor after the break with something to prove, but as play progressed it became evident BA was not going to let their lead evaporate. The Vikings played stingy defense, holding Wakefield scoreless over five minutes before the Lady Owls finally got on the board with a free throw at the 2:42 mark. The Owls went on to sink two treys in the period, but as the third quarter ended BA had extended its lead to 20 points, 45-25.

When H. Morton hit two straight treys to cut the lead to 15 points with 2:07 left to play, BA fans might have wondered if an amazing fourth quarter comeback was in the works. Wakefield sank three free throws to keep things interesting, but the Lady Vikings put an end to the visitors’ hopes as Alyssa Rivas scored deuces at 1:55 and :20 to seal the victory for BA, 56-40.

On Wednesday, it was BA’s turn to put up a stout effort in a losing cause. The Lady Vikings had faced the Lady Bearcats of Banner Christian three times this season and had lost all three encounters, the most recent loss in the final of the VCC Tournament at Richard Bland College in Petersburg. Playing Wednesday in Richmond, the BA girls hoped to turn the tables on their nemeses, and for a time it looked like they might be successful.

The Lady Vikings were in possession of a 12-point lead at the half and were ahead 32-24 at the end of the third. The Bearcat faithful had to wonder what was going on, but the Banner Christian mounted a furious rally led by Ify Okoye, who scored 14 of her game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter. It was enough to lead her team to victory, 46-38.

Saunders had another stellar night against Banner Christian with 17 points.

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