Expectations for the L.C. Bird Skyhawks girls basketball team this season were high. Thus far, they have matched- and exceeded many expectations. On Friday, they were able to do what no other Bird girls basketball team has done before- and bring home back to back Dominion District tournament championships. This time they defeated the tournament’s top seeded Monacan Chiefs 62-52 Friday evening.
“Winning today was great,” said senior and First Team All-Dominion District point guard Porscha Walton. “But there is much more work to do in our mind.”
The Skyhawks actually never trailed the game with the exception of Monacan’s first basket of the game, which was answered promptly by a three-pointer from freshman guard Taja Cole. Monacan did keep the game to a single digit deficit most of the way, cutting the lead to two in the second quarter, and then to four in the third quarter.
The game was the fourth meeting this season for the two teams, with Bird winning three of those games. In their last meeting in the regular season, Bird defeated Monacan for their only loss in the district this season.
“Bird has great guards, great post play, and great coaching,” said Monacan head coach Larry Starr. “That’s what makes them so difficult to beat.”
One memorable play in the game was as halftime approached, Monacan elected to hold the ball from about the 1:15 mark for the last shot. With about ten seconds left, they started to run a play and Cole was able to strip the ball and take it in for a lay-up and one to give Bird a blast of momentum heading into halftime.
Add that momentum in with a usually balanced attack and a strong post game led by senior Lee’osha Hines, most teams would find the Skyhawks to be a handful. Hines would star in the championship game finishing with a 12 point, 15 rebound double-double. The senior also added three assists and took two charges as Monacan tried to battle back.
“Lee’osha is one of the most effective players on the floor,” said Bird head coach Chevette Waller. “The reason why she’s the most effective is that she does the little things, and she’s not afraid to sacrifice her body.”
Bird’s effort was a team one, as Cole led all scorers with 18 points, Kelsey Cruz had 13, Walton 11 and Eboni Gilliam chipped in with eight points and ten rebounds. Senior Gabby Harris led the way for Monacan with 16 points.
“We need our whole team to win every game,” said Hines. “Even if those guys are on the bench and may not get in, we need everyone, that’s how we operate.”
The solid play of seniors Cruz, Gilliam, Hines and Walton alone wouldn’t be enough- a youth movement has helped to propel the Skyhawks, who as of press time boasted a 23-2 record. Cole has been a big part of this- averaging ten points per game as a freshman. On the defensive side, sophomore Quenswayla Story leads the team in blocks- and Bird averages over 14 steals per contest.
The Bird boys had a bit of deja-vu occur as they were upset by James River in the semi-finals 51-49. The boys shot just 30 percent from the floor in the game. Last year before they made their run to the state final Bird fell to Huguenot in the semi-finals. James River was able to control the tempo of the game as they run a slow paced offense similar to the Princeton offense. Cosby went on to defeat James River 47-45 to bring home the championship on the boy’s side.
Postseason awards were as follows: First Team All- Dominion District: Christian Smith and Robert Johnson for the boys and Porscha Walton for the girls. Second Team All-Dominion District: Taja Cole and Kelsey Cruz for the girls. All academic team: Johnson for the boys, and Cole and Walton for the girls. Bird coach Troy Manns took home coach of the year honors on the boy’s side.
Regional play started Tuesday for both the girl’s and boy’s teams at Bird, but due to press time, results cannot be published. Check out upcoming editions of the of Village News and @josh_mathewsVN on twitter for results, stats and news surrounding the regional and state playoffs.