In a clash featuring arguably the two best defensive teams in the state, Wise Central claimed its fourth victory of the season over Mountain 7 rival Ridgeview, 50-48 in overtime, to advance to Richmond once again.
On Saturday at VCU’s Siegel Center, the Lady Warriors (25-4) will go for their fourth state title in five years and their third in a row when they take on Greensville County at 4:30 p.m.
View the photo gallery from the game
“This feeling never gets old,” Central coach Robin Dotson said. “Ridgeview was playing well and they have great coaching. We know them so well, they know us. Hats off to them. It was another one of those games where nobody deserves to lose.”
Central’s Brittany Mullins tipped the ball off of the Ridgeview inbounds pass with two seconds to play in overtime and it fell right into Olivia Mullins’ hands to seal the deal for the Lady Warriors.
“I was like ‘Well, we won,’ ” Olivia Mullins said. “I was really happy and wanted to cry, but we get one more game.”
Olivia Mullins was also the hero on the offensive end. Her running layup with 1:37 left in overtime put the Lady Warriors ahead for good.
Hannah Carter had 19 points to lead Central. Dee Cvetnich added 12 and Olivia Mullins had 10.
Senior Nikole Counts totaled 14 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Lady Wolfpack (21-9). Senior Bailey Frazier kicked 13 points and six rebounds.
The game was tight from the start and featured a multitude of lead changes and ties, but with 2.4 seconds left in regulation, Ridgeview had a chance to turn the tide. Counts’ shot from beyond halfcourt was off to the right, however, and fell harmlessly off the backboard.
“This was a good high school basketball game,” Ridgeview coach Donnie Frazier said. “They hit a few more free throws than we did. That was the difference in the game. We didn’t shoot it terribly bad from the free-throw line, but they shot it extremely well.”
The Lady Warriors made 18 of 21 from the charity stripe, and the Lady Wolfpack went 14-for-19. The teams could not have been much more evenly matched in terms of shots made and taken. Ridgeview made 15 of 45 from the field and Central was good on 15 of 46 tries.
“This is my first group of graduating seniors that I’ve been with all four years,” Frazier said. “They show up every day, they work hard and they’re all good kids. ... I hate to see them go. I’ve had these kids for a long time, especially Nikole. It’s going to be hard going into the gym next year and not seeing these faces in there.”
Dotson also appreciates Frazier’s team, especially for the challenges it offered.
“This was the toughest schedule we’ve ever played this year,” Dotson said. “It prepared us. ... There’s nothing like Richmond in March.”