COURTLAND — Greensville County overcame an early 10-2 deficit and serious foul trouble with its top three scorers to knock off Page County 51-39 Friday and advance to the state semifinals for the third time in school history and first time since 2010.
The Lady Eagles appeared to be overwhelmed early by the spotlight of playing in the state quarterfinals missing four free throws and only managing an early Sanijah Robinson basket in the first six-plus minutes of the game. Meanwhile the Lady Panthers seemed to find an offensive rhythm after a slow start with six points in 43 seconds, capped by a pair of Lauren Williams free throws to grab a 10-2 advantage with 2:07 left in the first quarter.
With Greensville (23-5) in desperate need of a spark, it was provided by Region A Player of the Year Lenah Clements. The senior drove baseline, flipped an up and under dipsy-doo off the glass for a score and drew a foul with 1:51 remaining in the first quarter. Clements sank the free throw. Clements followed by burying a straight-away 3-pointer with 27 seconds left in the frame to cut the deficit to 10-8. A Page County (24-5) basket from Williams put the Panthers in front 12-8, but Greensville’s Jacqueline Hill sank a free throw with six seconds left in the first quarter to bring her squad within three, 12-9 after one quarter of play.
Williams hit a 3-pointer start the second quarter, but Clements triggered an 11-0 run by answering with a 3-pointer with seven minutes left in the second quarter. The senior scored the first eight in the blitz, hitting a pair of free throws with 5:22 left in the first half — then put her squad in front for good, 17-15 by tickling the twine from 3-point land with 4:43 left in the stanza.
“We did start a little shaky,” Clements said. “I think the difference was we kept our heads and started playing together. When we do that we are hard to beat.”
Robinson completed the run with the old fashion hoop and harm. Robinson drained the free throw to push the advantage to 20-15 with 3:16 left in the first half. The Lady Panthers crept within a bucket twice, but Robinson netted another four points in the final minute of the first half and the Lady Eagles went to the halftime locker room leading 27-20.
While the strong first-half finish gave the Lady Eagles plenty of confidence heading into the break, Foul trouble was a concern. The team’s top two scorers this season, Clements and Robinson, were saddled with three fouls. The foul difficulties would become nearly disastrous early in the third quarter. The team’s third leading scorer this year, Hill, was whistled for not one, not two, but three personal fouls to give her four fouls with 3:45 left in the third quarter.
Fortunately for Greensville, Clements and Robinson avoided picking up their fourth fouls in the frame and when Hill went to the bench the Eagles were in front 31-23. Hill needed her teammates to weather the storm while she sat helplessly watching from the sideline.
“I picked up those three fouls real quick,” she said. “I was a little frustrated, but my team had my back and did what they needed do.”
One thing the Lady Eagles were struggling to do was stop Williams. Her basket with 2:57 left the third quarter brought the Lady Panthers within four, 31-27. Williams had 16 points after the basket, but she got into trouble with a pair of quick third-quarter fouls. Unlike Clements, Robinson and Hill, Williams would not be on the floor much longer. She was whistled for her fifth foul and left the contest for good with 1:29 left the third quarter and her team trailing 35-29. It took only 29 seconds for Greensville to push it advantage to double digits.
Robinson buried a 3-pointer from the left corner just 10 seconds after Williams was disqualified. Clements followed with a bucket to extend the lead to 40-29 with a minute left the frame. Staying away from picking up a fourth foul of her own and Robinson not committing a fourth foul in the quarter was key.
“I think we were a little too hyped up before the game,” Clements said. “We just wanted to do too much. Sometimes playing aggressively can come back and get you, but it turned out OK.”
Without Williams on the floor the Lady Panthers needed to find another scoring option. They found points from Leah Hilliard and Abby Nauman. Hilliard scored the final points of the third quarter with a basket and Nauman netted the first two points of the final frame to trim Greensville’s lead to 40-33.
Greensville followed with a 5-0 run, capped by a Clements ’free throw, to push the advantage to a dozen, 45-33 with 4:29 left the contest,but the Panthers pounced with one final effort spanning the next minute. Nauman buried a 3-pointer, followed by a Hannah Southers free throw. Hilliard hit another pair from the charity stripe to cut Greensville’s lead to 45-39 with 2:22 left the game, but the Lady Eagles were able to play keep away and finish off the Panthers by hitting six free throws down the stretch.
Clements scored a game-high 22 points. Robinson netted 19 points, Jazlyn Jefferson scored four and Hill added three. Williams was the only Page County player in double figures with 16 points. Hilliard, a freshman, was next in line with eight.
With the win Greensville earns a 6 p.m. Tuesday rematch of the Region A Tournament final against Maggie Walker at Southampton High School in Courtland. The Green Dragons held off Region B champion Strasburg 39-38 Friday. Greensville beat Maggie Walker 68-60 in the Region A final in Richmond. Tuesday’s clash will decide a spot in Saturday’s state championship game at the Siegel Center in Richmond.
On the other side of the bracket Wise Central will battle Ridgeview. Wise Central whipped Martinsville 68-39 Friday, Ridgeview topped Floyd County 53-46.