Highland Springs was supposed to have a down year in 2018-19, with only one senior and 10 sophomores on its roster. But senior leader Jaylen Gathers had other ideas, as she led her Springers back to the Class 5, Region B final with a 60-48 wire-to-wire win over the Warriors.
Coach Franklin Harris said Gathers, who finished with a game-high 22 points, brings experience, composure and drive that has trickled down to the rest of his girls.
“At this time of the year, your seniors have got to step up and take charge, and Jaylen doesn’t want to stop playing,” Harris said.
Gathers was the catalyst on offense, settling her team and producing a run-ending bucket every time Matoaca threatened to get back in the game.
On the other end of the floor, the Springers’ extended 2-3 zone stymied the Warriors. The guards at the top and forwards on the blocks communicated and rotated seamlessly, managing to fly out to Matoaca’s shooters on the perimeter and pack the paint on their big players.
Coach Harris said he’s thrilled with how his young team has grown accustomed to its defensive rotations.
“We drill that in every day. They love playing it,” Harris said. “I’m very proud, we’re young, the pressure was on, they could have folded but that zone in the second half I thought was the difference.”
Highland Springs will meet L.C. Bird in the region final Friday night at 5:30 at Hermitage.
MATOACA — Nadja Gray 8, Jordan Carpenter 12, Aliyah Jackson 9, Kyndell Satterwhite 2, Alize Armstead 10, Maia Petteway 5, Janai Harrison 2.
HIGHLAND SPRINGS — Iyanna Rogers 4, Jalen Gathers 22, Sydney Boone 11, Kiaa Boyd 10, Nailah Williams 6, Kimaya Williams 4, India Jailey 3.
Matoaca 12 14 6 14 — 48
Highland Springs 23 14 8 15 — 60
3-point goals: — MAT: Nadja Gray 1, Aliyah Jackson 1, Maia Petteway 1 HS: Jalen Gathers 2, Sydney Boone 1.