The Patrick Henry girls basketball team already knew the homestretch of the regular season, and the defense of their Colonial District championship, would come down to a two-game road trip in early February.
Well, now make that three.
The Jan. 18 snow event forced the postponement of a game at Hermitage, the site of their only district loss last season. First rescheduled for this past Monday, it was moved a second time, to Thursday. Thus, the Patriots finish against three of the best district teams on the road with John Marshall Wednesday (after presstime), Hermitage Thursday, then a possible showdown for the district title at Deep Run Friday night.
But, before all that, there was home business to attend to, and attend they did. Patrick Henry swept three straight in Ashland against second-tier Colonial opponents to keep pace at the top of the standings.
On Senior Night Friday, the Patriots honored four-year varsity players Tyler and Jasmine Pinder, who were featured in the Jan. 3 Herald-Progress. Noted more for their relentless defensive play and good offensive ball rotation, they both added scorer to their title in Patrick Henry’s 56-30 romp over Douglas Freeman.
Jasmine outscored her twin sister Tyler 11-9, with Tyler grabbing four steals to Jasmine’s three. But the night wasn’t about their stat lines. It was a chance to reflect on the great experiences they’ve shared as Patriots.
“We wanted to go all out. We knew just to leave it on the court,” Jasmine said.
“I couldn’t believe it was here. Our teammates and coaches made a huge surprise for us. They decorated our car and everything,” Tyler noted.
So, the least they could do was fill the basket, especially in the first half as Patrick Henry built a 29-16 lead, 16 of the Pinders’ points coming in the first half. Summer Price, as usual, led the Patriots with 27 points as she closes in on 1,000 points for her Patriot career.
“We shot better as a whole; it’s been a good week for us,” Patrick Henry head coach Phillip Cobb said. “We knew coming in this week we had six games to play and we controlled our own destiny.”
The home three, which included wins over J.R. Tucker and Maggie Walker Governors School in addition to Douglas Freeman, are in the books. Facing John Marshall, Hermitage and Deep Run in successful nights on the road is a much different story. Each team has a winning record, and Deep Run is one of three Colonial teams, along with Patrick Henry and resurgent Mills Godwin, to only have two district losses going into the final week.
Another 3-0 week for the Patriots means a third consecutive Colonial District title. Stumbles along the way could make a return trip to the Central Region tournament in two weeks a very daunting task.
“We’ve had some highs and lows this season, but I feel like we’re peaking at the right time, and that’s what counts,” Cobb opined.
Before the Freeman game, it was announced that Tyler and Jasmine have committed to play collegiate basketball at Bridgewater College. The Pinders have known Eagles head coach Jean Willi for several years going back to a basketball camp they attended. Bridgewater plays in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference alongside Randolph-Macon, so future seasons will see Tyler and Jasmine square off against former Patrick Henry teammate and now Yellow Jacket Katie Anderson. The Pinders said they made their decision to go to Bridgewater over Randolph-Macon after an official visit about two weeks ago.