STAUNTON — Wilson Memorial put the finishing touches on a solid regular season and tuned up for the postseason Friday night as the Green Hornets dumped the turnover-plagued Staunton Storm 68-53 in Shenandoah District girls basketball in the Paul Hatcher gym.
The game was the last to be played in the fabled Hatcher gym, which is scheduled to undergo extensive renovations during the offseason and the modernized gym should be ready for the 2020-21 campaign.
And it was only fitting that the victory gave Wilson head coach Jackie Bryan, who has coached many a game in the Hatcher gym, her 200th career win with the Hornets in her 13th season. Bryan’s assistant coach Becky Burns has been by her side for all 200 Ws.
Bryan watched her team bounce back from a disappointing loss to Fort Defiance on Tuesday that cost the Hornets a shot at the district title.
“We had hard practices the last couple days, and that got them focused again,” Bryan said. “That helped us bounce back tonight.”
Wilson’s defense wreaked havoc on the Storm, forcing 24 turnovers, which led to 21 second-chance points.
“We knew from the first game with them that we could force turnovers and get layups,” Bryan said. “We love that style of play, and the girls do an excellent job sharing the ball on the break.”
Now its postseason time for the Hornets.
“Our goal coming into our first season in Class 3 was to make the regional tournament,” Bryan said. “Now we want to win some games.”
Wilson (13-9, 7-3) has a week off to prepare for the school’s first venture into the Region 3C tournament. The Hornets go in as the No. 7 seeds and will travel to second-seeded Charlottesville on Friday for a first-round matchup.
Charlottesville, which dropped down this season from Class 4, is not a stranger to the Hornets.
“We played them in camp over the summer, and some of our girls and their girls play on the same AAU team,” Bryan said.
The loss ended Staunton’s season. The Storm didn’t not qualify for the Region 2B tournament after finishing as the ninth seeds, one spot below the last qualifying position.
Although the Storm didn’t make the postseason, they did show a four-game improvement under first-year head coach Eric Payne.
“We have to learn to be fundamentally sound and make our layups,” he said. “I was pleased with our development. We are going to do some team bonding things and then get back to work.”
Staunton (9-11, 2-8) inflicted its own wounds in the first quarter with nine turnovers, which the Hornets turned into nine second-chance points, including a run of seven straight, to lead 17-13 after eight minutes.
After the Storm closed the gap to 21-20, Madison Flint capped a 7-0 spurt with a pair of baskets, including a 3-pointer, as Wilson took a 30-24 margin to the half.
Wilson blew the game open with a 10-0 burst early in the third quarter that Korinne Baska and Flint started and finished with 3s. The other two baskets came off Storm mistakes as the lead ballooned to 40-26.
After Storm made one late-ditch run, slicing the deficit to 44-38, but Flint and Ashley Morani closed the quarter with baskets to push the margin back to double-digits.
The Hornets sealed the outcome with a 8-0 spurt in the fourth quarter that grew the lead to 56-40.
The Hornets got balanced scoring with three players in double figures. Morani led the assault with 19, while Flint added 18 and Baska 16.
Keziah Williams had a breakout performance for the Storm, who had only one senior on the roster, as the junior post worked the paint for 22 points, while Emma Witt contributed 16.
Staunton’s jayvees wrapped up the season with a 29-24 victory. Shanita Winslow paced the Storm with 10 points, while Addyson Hodge tallied eight. For the Hornets, Hailey Flint led the way with eight.