Monarchs Reign Supreme in Central District
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Feb 18, 2013, 14:54
Prince George sophomore Tyrah Washington (31) dribbles along the three-point arc as Meadowbrook’s Brittany Nicholson (right) defends during the Central District girls basketball championship game on Friday at Hopewell High School. Meadowbrook won 76-27 (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
HOPEWELL – Former Prince George High School girls basketball standout Jorden Lykes – now playing at Davis & Elkins College – holds the Royals’ all-time scoring record with 1,468 points. That mark appears to have an expiration date.
Present-day Royal Ariel Stephenson scored her 1,000th career point during a 76-27 loss to Meadowbrook in the Central District tournament championship game on Friday at Hopewell High School.
Stephenson is only a sophomore.
The 5-foot-11 combo guard scored 43 points in a semifinal win over Petersburg on Thursday, bringing her all-time tally to 998. She broke into quadruple figures against the Monarchs on a baseline drive and layup with 51 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Stephenson was fouled on the play and was just as puzzled as everybody else when the action was interrupted to commemorate the occasion. She said she had no idea she was approaching the milestone.
Prince George sophomore Ariel Stephenson (25) surveys the court as Meadowbrook’s Jourdyn Friend (21) defends on Friday at Leadbetter Gymnasium in Hopewell. Stephenson scored her 1,000th career point late in the second quarter (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
“It’s an achievement,” Stephenson said. “But it’s just something to keep me working hard.”
The moment provided the second-ranked Royals with a silver lining in a game that otherwise belonged to the top-seeded Monarchs.
With the lopsided victory, the regular-season champions claimed their second straight district tournament title and completed an unbeaten romp through the eight-team league.
Meadowbrook senior Ashley Pegram single-handedly outscored Prince George, pouring in 21 of her game-high 28 points in the first half.
The district player of the year’s versatility was on full display as she gouged the Royals on dribble drives, scored in transition and knocked down all three of the Monarchs’ 3-pointers.
“I was just trying to help us jump out to a big lead,” Pegram said. “So when we got into the second half, we could just relax, work the ball and run the clock.”
The Monarchs assembled a 10-0 lead and outscored the Royals by a dozen in each of the first three quarters.
“It’s a lot easier playing ahead than it is trying to catch up, particularly with the young team that I have,” said Meadowbrook coach Daniel Connor.
Stephenson’s landmark layup was her only field goal of the first half, but she scored eight in the third quarter and finished with a team-high 12. Senior DaZhane Myler racked up nine, but no other Prince George player scored more than two.
The Royals were playing without the services of regular starters JoJo Taylor and Tayla Smith.
“We came in here missing two starters and we don’t have a deep bench,” said Prince George coach Billy Gray. “And two players can’t replace JoJo on defense.”
Connor said the Monarchs’ game plan was designed to force Stephenson’s short-handed supporting cast to shoulder the scoring burden.
“You have to approach it like that when you’re playing a good player like her,” Connor said. “You’re not going to totally stop her, but you can slow her down.”
Prince George trailed 34-10 at halftime but started the third quarter with a renewed sense of vigor. Myler’s fast-break layup capped an 8-4 run for the Royals and reduced the deficit to 42-18 with 5:41 remaining in the penultimate frame.
Meadowbrook returned to its dominant ways, however, by scoring the last eight points of the third quarter and the first nine of the fourth to bolster its ever-growing advantage.
Sariah Brown and Nia Jenkins notched 15 and 11, respectively, for the Monarchs.
Both teams earned the right to host first-round games in the Central Region tournament. For the second consecutive season, Meadowbrook will enter that bracket as a top seed while Prince George will compete as a No. 2 seed.
Connor said he hopes his team’s postseason form carries over into that competition, but Pegram took a moment to reflect on what the Monarchs have already accomplished.
“Not many people win back-to-back championships,” Pegram said. “So I feel like we made a statement tonight.”