Clarke County of Berryville got by Lancaster, 45-41, to eliminate the Lady Devils from the Group A, Division 2 state basketball tournament. With the quarterfinal win, the Region B Eagles will face Central-Wise in a semifinal game tomorrow (March 8) at 12:15 p.m. at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond.
In a game with more missed shots than made for both teams, Lancaster had a chance in the final seconds to take the lead for the first time since the opening basket but missed four shots from right under the goal.
The Eagles, who took the lead for good four minutes into the game, hit three foul shots in the final 17 seconds for the win.
"It was a tough loss," said LHS coach Joanne Webb-Fary. "Sharda tying it with less than a minute was awesome. This group never gives up. They believe that they can win until the end."
Clarke County led by only a point, 13-12, to end the first quarter, then took a 25-19 lead at halftime after a stickback by Allie Hicks.
After cutting the lead to three early in the third, Lancaster allowed Clarke County a 6-0 run and the Eagles took their biggest lead of the game, 10 points, (34-24), with three minutes to go in the third.
Clarke held an eight-point lead at the end of three before Lancaster started to chop away at the margin. Shamerah Taylor took a steal from end-to-end for a layup that pulled Lancaster within five with 4:19 remaining. Then Arkasia Sutton drilled a three-pointer to close the gap to three, 39-36.
After giving up a pair of free throws to Anna Blue Catlett, Lancaster's Sutton answered from the line to keep Lancaster close. The Devils' man defense forced a turnover and Taylor was fouled to go the line for a one-and-one. She hit the first to cut the Eagles' lead to two, 41-39, with 1:39 left.
The Lady Devils put up four shots from under the basket before Clarke County fouled Beane, who made two at the line to knot the score at 41.
With 27 seconds left, Lancaster's Anesha White was called for a push to send Catlett back to the line. She hit one for a 42-41 lead and Beane fouled Rachel Sefton seven seconds later. Sefton hit the first of two for a 43-41 Clarke lead. Forced to foul again, Lancaster sent Sefton back to the line with nine seconds to play. She hit both for the 45-41 final.
Lancaster shot only 30% from the floor and Clarke shot only 35%. The difference came at the foul line, with the Devils hitting 13-of-22 for 59% and the Eagles sinking 13-of-16 for 81%.
Sydney Chrane scored the first nine points for Clarke and finished with 18 points. Allie Hicks added 10.
Taylor had 17 points as Lancaster's only double-digit scorer. The Eagles keyed on Lancaster's 6'4" center Aleyah Davenport, who was held to only three points and five rebounds. She averages six blocks per game and had two against Clarke County.
"Davenport was contained and we knew she would be," said Webb-Fary. "We didn't try to force it in, but she rebounded fairly well, just couldn't put them in the hole. She was the most improved player over the season and was key in our region win."
Lancaster loses three seniors from this year's team, Taylor, Davenport and Sutton.
"The seniors were very mature leaders on the court," said Webb-Fary. "They listened well and were all team players. Shamerah has been misunderstood at times because she takes a lot of the pressure on herself. That comes from her gymnastics and track and field background. Make no mistake, she is a competitor and plays hard at all times.
"This was one of the finest teams I've ever coached," she added. "They had a great work ethic, great attitudes and they are just a lot of fun. It was a great season."
Lady Indians fall
In another Division 2 quarterfinal, George Mason rolled to a 68-35 win over Northumberland at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax.
The Region B champion Mustangs (25-5) are the defending state champion and are seeking their fourth state title in five years.
George Mason took a 14-point lead in the first quarter and went up by 22 at the half.
George Mason's defense stifled the Lady Indians, who shot less than 20% from the floor. Northumberland missed 53 of 64 shots.
The Mustangs advance to the state semifinal game and will play Floyd County tomorrow (March 8) at 10:30 a.m. at the Siegel Center.