Top-Seeded Springers Bounce Royals
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Feb 21, 2013, 18:11
Prince George sophomore Ariel Stephenson (middle) looks to split a Highland Springs double team during the quarterfinals of the Central Region tournament on Tuesday. The Springers won 86-46 (photo by David Breidenbach).
RICHMOND – As he watched his team sustain a season-ending loss to perennial powerhouse Highland Springs on Tuesday, Prince George girls basketball coach Billy Gray wrestled with a dichotomy of thoughts.
On the one hand, he thought the present looked bleak from the outset. The Springers, champions of the Capital District, led by as many as 48 en route to an 86-46 victory in the quarterfinals of the Central Region tournament.
But the veteran coach foresees a promising future for the upstart Royals, who finished second in the Central District and whose potential Gray said was not reflected by the lopsided final score.
“At times tonight, four of the kids out there were sophomores,” Gray said. “We certainly hope to grow, and we’re happy about the players we have coming back.”
In their current incarnation, however, the Royals had no answer for the Springers’ stable of sharpshooters. Senior guard Kermisha Clark racked up a game-high 24 points and sophomore forward NaJai Pollard accrued 16 of her 20 in the first half.
The Springers opened the game with an 11-0 run and never faltered.
“Tonight they were a much better shooting team than us,” Gray said. “I watched them hit some off-balance shots, some short ones and some long ones. They just kept going through for them.”
The hot-handed home team led 48-22 at halftime and 72-28 after three quarters, but the Royals outscored their hosts 18-14 in the fourth to provide the final margin.
Prince George sophomore Ariel Stephenson paced the visitors with 19 points while DaZhane Myler scored seven of her 15 in the final frame.
Four Prince George seniors – Myler, Tayla Smith, Mariah Hunter and Tyra Coleman – played the final game of their high school careers. Collectively, that quartet averaged 25.3 points per game this season with Myler accounting for 13.2.
The three-year varsity starter, who also averaged 5.8 rebounds and 3.7 steals per outing, said she relished her role as a leader on the sophomore-laden squad.
“The team has always been great,” Myler said. “I had girls looking up to me this year, so I had to play a big part.”