Sterling, VA (February 17, 2020) - As the sixth seed in the Dulles District tournament, the Heritage Pride would want to have the ball in Joimarie Williams' hands with the score tied and forty-three seconds remaining in the game. As the third seed, the Dominion Titans would gladly have Maddie Beal on the foul line with the score tied and thirty seconds left.
Practically no one expected a close game when the two teams lined up at the opening game of the playoffs. After all, the Pride and the Titans had met twice in January, and Dominion won both games rather handily. First by ten points away and then by fifteen points at home. Since Dominion was hosting this iteration, they expected the same results.
And, just by looking at the two teams you could see why expectations were high for Dominion. They were simply taller and stronger centrally with Beal and Lauren Brokken filling up the middle of the court--guard to post.
But Heritage was not intimidated. They were scrappy and tenacious all over the court to take a surprising first quarter lead, 14-11. Williams set the tone with brilliant ball-handling and fearless drives to the net. She didn't always score, but she made the Titans work hard.
Still trailing midway through the second quarter, The Titans finally went on a concerted run, scoring nine points to capture a 27-21 halftime lead. It looked, perhaps, like the momentum had shifted for good.
But that would be wrong. When play resumed it was as if Heritage had turned it up another notch as they climbed back into the game to tie it at 36-36 as the third period ended.
The lead exchanged hands a few times in the final period until there was Williams, with the ball, and a chance to give her team the lead in the last minute of the game. But her drive ended in a turnover, and the ball ended up in Beal's hands, which is exactly where it should have been. The Titan senior had ignited her team in the last few minutes, and when she was fouled the game was hers alone to win. Beal calmly sank both free throws to seal the win and send her team on to Loudoun Valley.
Final Score: Dominion 49 - Heritage 46