Patriot girls outlast grueling homestretch

Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 10:08 am

This wasn’t just any week for Patrick Henry girls basketball.

Playing three road games in three days in pursuit of another Colonial District regular season championship, the Patriots overcame illness and devastating injury, but fell a game short of the goal. The road to redemption got underway Tuesday night in Ashland with a historic moment thrown in for good measure.

Patrick Henry’s Summer Price (center) topped 1,000 points on Tuesday. Above, she’s joined by Head Coach Phillip Cobb, Activities Director Matt Crowder, Principal Wanda Bibb and Assistant Coach Leslie Nuckols.

The Patriots entered the homestretch tied for first with Mills Godwin, needing to beat John Marshall, Hermitage, and Deep Run in order to force a one-game playoff with the Eagles for the regular season title. After Patrick Henry handled John Marshall without leading scorer Summer Price, they traveled to Hermitage. When the Panthers leaped to a 9-2 lead in four minutes, Price was off the bench and into the game. She proceeded to take it over, and she had to.

Late in the first half, guard Tyler Pinder rebounded the ball, was run into by Hermitage star Destini Walker, then suddenly collapsed onto the court in pain, her cries echoing through the Hermitage gym. She was carried off the court by a trainer and her head coach, Phillip Cobb. The team, already thin on the bench, was suddenly missing a co-captain.

Pinder was diagnosed Tuesday with a torn ACL and torn meniscus in her knee, and anticipates a six-month recovery period. Tyler, along with twin sister Jasmine, will play basketball next winter at Bridgewater College and expects to be ready for fall practice.

Meanwhile, with her sister sidelined just feet away, Jasmine played relenting defense on Walker, who scored 28 of the Panthers’ 50 points, and only a late surge by Hermitage, and two-for-18 shooting by Patrick Henry in the fourth quarter forced overtime. In the extra session, Price scored the last of her game-high 32 points at the free throw line, giving Patrick Henry a 51-47 lead in the final seconds. A Panther three at the buzzer made the final score 51-50.

With Pinder on crutches, the team traveled to Deep Run for their third meeting with the Wildcats in the regular season finale. The Patriots kept Deep Run in their sights, despite missing four of six free throws in the first half, helping the Wildcats lead at halftime 23-20. But Deep Run steadily pulled away as the second half rolled on as Patrick Henry had troubles getting shot opportunities, only attempting seven shots in the third quarter. The 49-39 win ended the Patriots’ hope for the Colonial crown, as they finished tied with Deep Run for second at 13-3. As Deep Run swept Patrick Henry in district play (the Patriots defeated Deep Run in December’s T-DIT Tournament), the Patriots received the third seed in the district tournament.

Patrick Henry regrouped to host J.R. Tucker in the Colonial District tournament quarterfinals Tuesday. The game pace was unusual, as the Patriots launched 40 shot attempts in the first half alone, but found offense from several sources in building a 41-29 halftime lead en route to a 63-51 victory. Jasmine Pinder scored 13 of her game-high 15 points in the first half, Rachel Adams had three critical treys in an 11-point performance, while Amber Lee and India Coles added nine points each.

“This is one of the first games this season that we’ve played team basketball on the offensive side,” Cobb said. “We started knocking down shots when they counted.”

They needed them, as Tucker’s hot first half shooting pushed the Patriots. Cold Patrick Henry shooting opened the door for a Tiger comeback in the third, but Tucker couldn’t take advantage, scoring just seven points in the eight minutes.

With just under two minutes left in the first half, Summer Price nailed a three-pointer to go over the 1,000-point mark for her Patriot career. Price, just a junior, is the third female player and sixth overall to break the 1,000-point barrier, as she finished the game with 13 points. Price started slow offensively, but doesn’t blame it on the pressure of a career milestone.

“My first layup, I just missed it,” Price shrugged with a smile. “It was in the back of my mind, though I tried hard not to let it. No matter what, it was there.”

Price also relishes a final chance against Deep Run, whom they met in Wednesday’s semifinal (after presstime) held at Mills Godwin High School.

“We’re determined. We know what they have and they know what we have,” Price noted.

With the win, Patrick Henry clinches a berth in next week’s Central Region Tournament, as did the Atlee Raiders in the Capital District. Senior Stephanie Staples, who reached the 1,000-point career mark for the Raiders last week, poured in 20 points as Atlee rolled over Henrico in their district quarterfinal, 70-40. Jamari Blackwell added 17 points for the Raiders while Cierra Shelton had 11. Atlee next plays top-seeded Highland Springs in the Capital semifinals Thursday night at Varina High School.


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