EMPORIA – The band was rocking. The fans were loud. The gym was small. And the opponent was no pushover, sporting a 20-3 record.
None of that bothered Wilson Memorial though. Neither did a flurry of second-quarter 3s by Greensville County or an 11-4 third-quarter run that got the home team to within a point.
The Green Hornets withstood it all and prevailed Thursday night in the 2A East girls basketball regional semifinals, beating Greensville 63-54 and earning a second-straight regional championship appearance, this one against Buffalo Gap Saturday afternoon at Orange County High School.
“We’re definitely more motivated,” said Jordan Sondrol of a second chance at winning a regional title. “We want to be different from last year. It’s a big thing for us. It’s a great accomplishment and we want to go into the [state] tournament a number-one seed instead of a number-two like we were last year.”
With the win, Wilson will also play at James Madison University on either March 4 or 5 in the 2A state quarterfinal.
Sondrol finished with 22 points to lead the Hornets in the win. Jordan Poole had 14, Sarah Sondrol added 12 and Lexi Deffenbaugh finished with 11 points. Cheridan Hatfield and Lauren Clayton both added a bucket.
Wilson came out strong, racing to a 25-9 lead following a Jordan Sondrol 3 early in the second quarter. Sondrol had nine points and Poole added six on a pair of 3s in the early barrage.
Greensville answered from long range though, knocking down six 3s over the rest of the half and trimming Wilson’s lead to one. Poole finally answered for the Hornets with a 3 in the final seconds to give her team a 34-30 lead at the break.
Wilson coach Jackie Bryan said all the 3s messed with her team’s confidence a little.
“We talked about it at the half,” said Bryan. “They let that take them out of the game for just a minute or two. Some of it we had some mix-ups on defensive assignments so that made it even worse. But I told them that the [way we played at] the beginning of the game is how we are compared to them so we just need to get back to that.”
Wilson stretched its lead to eight when Deffenbaugh hit a 3 to follow another Poole 3, but Greensville came right back, cutting the Wilson lead to 46-45 with 1:48 left in the third quarter on a Tia Eason triple.
“As leaders, me and Lexi just told our team that
we just needed to settle down and play our game,” said Jordan Sondrol of Greensville’s third-quarter run. “Some of our teammates haven’t been in that situation. From experience you just have to either slow the ball down or push it — you just have to know when to do things. You just have to relax and play like we normally do.”
Jordan Sondrol didn’t just do the talking in the huddle, but on the floor, hitting the next basket and following with a 3 to start a 13-2 run. The senior had nine points in the run that put her team in front 59-47.
“She came up big right there for us,” Bryan said of Sondrol. “I told her to give me some spurts … just the confidence to step out and [hit a 3].”
Deffenbaugh said the late run was huge, especially after last season’s struggles at the end of the season, losing to Clarke County and Central Wise to end the season. They also learned other lessons that they’ll take into take into Saturday’s game.
“We learned that we need to shoot better that we did last year,” said Deffenbaugh. “We need to relax and do what we need to do. We need to take over that floor.”
Saturday’s game will mark the fourth meeting of the season between Wilson and Buffalo Gap. Wilson has won the first three games, the closest being a 12-point win in the Conference 36 championship game.
“We played [and beat] Lee four times last year,” said Bryan. “It’s getting to the point now it really isn’t who we’re playing. It’s almost becoming more about us.”
WILSON MEMORIAL 17 17 17 12 — 63
GREENSVILLE 7 23 17 7 — 54