The evolution of the L.C. Bird girls’ basketball team has been a story to follow all season. That evolution reached a new level as they dispatched Cosby in the Dominion District finals 65-55 to secure the championship, as a balanced Bird offensive attack placed three players in double-figures in scoring. The title was the first for Bird since 2008.
“At the beginning of the year, Kelsey [Cruz] would have a lot of games where she had to score 20 plus,” said L.C. Bird girls basketball head coach Chevette Waller. “When everyone else scores, it’s tough for defenders to focus on one person.”
After falling behind early in the first quarter, Bird seemed to rush their offense, just settling for single passes and shot attempts or drives, instead of moving the ball.
“After that I just told the girls,” said Waller, “Slow down and run the offense- and we started to get good looks and just chipping away at the deficit.”
Bird narrowed that deficit to four by the end of the first quarter, and would trail by just three points at the half, using a balanced attack against the Titans, and the play and leadership of Lee-Osha Hines, a junior.
“One of our standouts in the final and all season would be Hines,” said Waller. “Her box score might not reflect it but her leadership is outstanding; she’s our vocal leader on the floor.”
Coming out of the gates in the third quarter, things started to turn the corner for Bird as they were able to limit Cosby to just six points in the quarter, really ramping up their defense, and also improving their shot selection as time went on in the game. The Skyhawks led by nine at the end of the frame.
“Closing out the third, we got them in the double-bonus,” said Waller.
“I told the girls that we had to control the game, and we had to make our free-throws to seal it.”
In the fourth, the two teams combined for 41 points but Cosby was relatively unable to make a stop and cut into the lead. The Lady Skyhawks came out on top, connecting on their free throws to seal it down the stretch. In the game, Bird shot 76% from the foul stripe, connecting on 25 of 33 attempts.
Bird’s balanced scoring attack was led by point guard Porschia Walton, who tallied 19 points to go along with seven rebounds. Cruz and Eboni Gilliam scored 14 points apiece, and Gilliam had 10 rebounds to go along with her points, recording a double-double. Sophomore, Monica Alexander, connected on three of four 3-point attempts, finishing with nine. Hines also finished the game with 10 rebounds.
“Monica’s play has been big for us,” said Waller. “She can make the three, and she provides great ball handling support to Porschia [Walton]. “We pulled her up [from JV] mid-season but she’s been playing like a veteran member of the team.”
L.C. Bird is in the midst of the Central Region Tournament, which started on Monday, and due to press time, could not be reported on.