Waynesboro’s nightmare girls basketball regular season is over.
The Little Giants had the curtain finally come down Wednesday night in a nondistrict makeup game with intercity rival Staunton, which the Storm won 49-36.
It was the same old song for the Giants as too many missed shots, especially layups and free throws, kept them from making a serious threat for that elusive first victory.
“The missed layups and free throws (2-of-10) were the difference,” Waynesboro head coach Kevin Loker said. “All those misses left us exposed to foul trouble on the other end.”
The third quarter was a microcosm of the Giants’ night and season. Staunton committed nine turnovers in the period, but Waynesboro only shaved off three points from a 10-point halftime deficit because it couldn’t buy a layup.
“We have to find a way to finish plays,” Loker said. “Or we can’t become successful.”
The loss left Waynesboro winless on a season where the Giants dealt with a six-player roster for most the year, and for several games, they only had five players available.
Although the regular season is over, the Giants still have the matter of competing in the meaningless Valley District tournament, which starts Friday. Waynesboro (0-21) travels to Turner Ashby (20-2) for a 7 p.m. quarterfinal game. Even if the Giants were to go on a Cinderella-type run and win the tournament title, they still won’t make the eight-team Region 3C field. Spotswood and TA already have the two Valley spots locked up, which begs the question, why is there even a district tourney being played?
“We will go up there and compete as hard as we can, and give it a shot,” Loker said. “This will be the first time we played TA with seven players.”
While the Giants get a game in a pseudo tournament, the same can’t be said about Staunton’s postseason hopes. The Storm are extremely unlikely to make the Region 2B field as they are currently sitting at No. 9. Staunton (9-10) ends the regular season, and probably its season, Friday at home against Wilson Memorial, which has qualified for Region 3C play.
After Waynesboro took a quick 4-0 lead, the Storm’s Keziah Williams started and finished a 7-0 run with basket for a 7-4 margin at the 2:33 mark. The Giants managed the tie the game at 9 after one quarter despite seven turnovers.
But the Storm seized control to begin the second period, scoring 12 unanswered points. Alayia Robinson bombed a pair of 3s to begin the blitz, while two live-ball turnovers by the Giants led to four points. Emma Witt finished the run with a short jumper for a 21-9 margin.
“That run was hard on us,” Loker said. “We haven’t stopped a team from making a run on us all season.”
Waynesboro managed to slice the deficit to 25-19 on Cierra Bruce’s triple, but Robinson and Jnaejah Martin responded for the Storm as they took a 10-point, 29-19, advantage to the break. Mistakes continued to haunt the Giants in the quarter with seven more giveaways.
Staunton caught a bad case of the turnover bug in the third quarter, only the Giants never took advantage. Waynesboro trimmed the deficit to 36-31 after consecutive baskets from Adaria Simmons and Tyleah Cabell, but the Giants never got any closer, trailing 38-31 at the end of the period.
“We were extremely lucky they didn’t convert all those turnovers into points,” Staunton first-year head coach Eric Payne said. “We could have easily been tied or trailing.”
Williams, a lanky junior post, who have seven of Staunton’s nine third-quarter points, kept the Storm ahead in the final eight minutes, scoring six straight points during a game-clinching 9-0 run, including a three-point play following an offensive rebound off a missed throw.
Williams finished with a game-high 17 points, while Witt added 12.
Although Staunton’s postseason hopes look bleak, Payne likes the progress of a team that has only one senior.
“We won more games than last year,” he said. “I think the program is starting to turn the corner. We are far from getting there, but we are getting better.”
Bruce was the lone Giant to tally double figures with 15 points.
Waynesboro’s jayvees finished off their season with a 29-22 win over the Storm. Paris Morgan led the Giants with 16 points, while Mattie Ledford added seven. For Staunton, Kourtlyn Stuart tallied nine.