The Lord Botetourt girls are three wins away from a Class 3 state basketball championship, but three tough teams will have to be beaten to accomplish that goal. The first hurdle comes Friday night when the Cavaliers take on Spotswood High at East Rockingham High School in Elkton at 7 p.m.
The Trailblazers have lost just one game this year and they’re the Region C champions in Class 3. Lord Botetourt is 21-6 and the runner-up team from Region D.
“Spotswood is a very good team, they’re long and athletic,” said LB coach Chuck Pound. “We’ll have to slow down their inside game and handle their pressure.”
The Cavaliers finished second in an exciting Region 3D tournament last week. They started off with a 55-32 win over Cave Spring in Daleville in the quarterfinal round. A scrappy Cave Spring team held LB scoreless from the 5:30 mark of the first period until the 5:25 mark of the second quarter, but the Cavaliers still managed to lead 16-13 at the half.
“We got off to a slow start but we were playing very good defense so Cave Spring wasn’t running away from us,” said Pound.
Botetourt’s offense got in gear after intermission and the Cavaliers outscored the Knights by 20 points in the second half, 39-19. Miette Veldman finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, Jenna Alam had 14 points and four assists and Brooklyn Shelton had 13 points.
That win put the Cavaliers in the semifinals on Thursday night against Christiansburg at Magna Vista High School. This was an exciting game from start to finish as LB pulled out a 68-62 win in overtime to clinch a spot in the state tournament. Christiansburg finished at 18-6 and was eliminated from post-season play with the loss.
Botetourt trailed by as many as 13 points early in the game but rallied to take a 27-22 lead by the half. The Cavaliers led by as many as 11 but Veldman, the Blue Ridge District Player of the Year, picked up her third foul late in the third period and went to the bench. Christiansburg responded with an 11-0 run to tie the game at 41-41 after three periods.
The Demons took a four-point lead in the fourth quarter but LB battled back to tie the game on a three-pointer by Alam, her third of the period. Botetourt committed a shooting foul with 4.8 seconds left, but after Pound called a time out to ice the shooter she missed both as LB dodged a bullet and went into overtime. Shelton then scored seven in the extra period as LB clinched the berth in the state tournament with the win.
Botetourt put four players in double figures, led by Alam with 19 points and six assists. Scottie Cook had a career-high 18 points and added 11 rebounds while Veldman had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Shelton finished with 12 points.
With little time to rest, LB and Abingdon squared off in Friday’s championship. The game was moved to George Wythe High School in Wytheville and this was another barn-burner, with the Falcons prevailing 58-56 to take the Region D championship. The two teams had split games during the regular season.
“After a short night and overtime game, we got on the bus after school and headed to George Wythe,” said Pound. “The girls were tired, but I thought we played well. We only turned the ball over 12 times, but several were at crucial points.”
LB led 17-15 after one period but was down 30-24 at the half.
“They played a similar defense to how they played us in the Cave Spring tournament (over Christmas), with two players staying in the lane most of the night,” said Pound.
Abingdon took a nine-point lead in the third period but the Cavs battled back to within one when Shelton hit a 25-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to end the period.
“That shot gave us a jolt and we played well in the fourth quarter,” said Pound. “We were up three late when we had a turnover that resulted in a lay-up and then a deflected pass bounced off three of our players and landed in the hands of an Abingdon girl under the goal for an easy two.”
That gave the Falcons a one point lead, but LB regained the lead when Veldman scored an old-fashioned three, hitting a driving lay-up and a foul shot to put the Cavs up by two points.
Abingdon then came down and ran a backdoor play that they had scored on several times, missing the lay-up but getting the rebound and stickback to tie the game.
Botetourt had the ball with 30 seconds left. Alam drove the baseline and found an open shooter in the corner, but she stepped out of bounds on the play and that gave the ball back to the Falcons with 11 seconds on the clock. Abingdon hit a tough driving bank shot with 3.8 seconds to go and the Cavaliers couldn’t get off a shot as time expired.
Veldman had 15 points and 12 rebounds while Shelton had 14 points, 12 coming on four threes. Kenleigh Gunter scored a career high 11 points and Grace Taylor had five off the bench. Cook had eight points and seven boards and Alam had seven assists. In the region tournament Alam played 98.25 of a possible 100 minutes.
“Jenna had a great week,” said Pound. “On each different night she not only had to run the offense, but she had to guard three of the best players in the region.”
This Friday’s state quarterfinal winners will advance to the state semifinals at a site to be determined on either March 5 or 6. The Botetourt-Spotswood winner would play the winner of a game between Abingdon and Brookville, and the other side of the bracket has Tabb against Culpeper County and Hopewell against William Monroe in the quarterfinal round.
The state championship game is at the Siegel Center in Richmond on March 10 at 11 a.m.