By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Feb. 20 — Team hustle. It’s a defining trait of one of the best girls basketball teams to ever hit the court donning the maroon and white of Luray High School.
“They bring it in practice,” LHS head coach Joe Lucas said, “and it carries over to the game.”
It definitely carried over to Thursday night’s Bull Run District title game, as the Bulldogs had to hustle and hang on in the fourth quarter to earn the four-year coach his first district championship.
Standout sophomore Emilee Weakley posted a team-high 26 points, while junior Brynlee Burrill added 14.
After a sluggish start and a narrow 10-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, Luray settled in and outscored the visiting Rams of Strasburg 14-0 in the second. Weakley lead the way with 10 of Luray’s 14 points in the second period, including two three-pointers.
Both teams posted 14 in the third frame. Strasburg came out of the locker room playing with more urgency and utilized their two 6’3” forwards better in the paint.
“We told the girls at half… they have another run in them, but we have to hold our composure,” Coach Lucas said.
The Rams continued to gain momentum, going on a 9-2 run to open the fourth and then outscoring Luray 21-10 over the final eight minutes. But Luray kept their cool and shot 60 percent (6-for-10) from the foul line in the final minutes.
The Rams got within four points of the Bulldogs, but they could get no closer. Luray held on and earned the Bull Run District Tournament championship, 48-44.
Strasburg was led by the two towering senior forwards, Christian Reid and Jaden Alsberry, who scored 16 and 11 points, respectively.
After the title game, both Strasburg and Luray were recognized as the district’s regular season co-champions.
“We didn’t get rattled; we kept our composure,” Coach Lucas said after the championship win. “We just need to stay on track and keep getting everyone to do what they need to do.”
Coach Lucas has pushed the team concept all season, but few can argue that Weakley is a key reason why the Bulldogs are sitting at 24-1 — the best overall record of any girls basketball team in the school’s long history.
In the ’73-’74 season, Luray only suffered three losses on the court. In the ’87-88 season, the Bulldogs were ranked fourth in the state, but only third in the highly competitive Shenandoah District. That season, despite being among the top four teams in Virginia, Luray didn’t even qualify for the regional tournament. About six years ago, the Bulldogs went 23-5 behind the standout performance of Sable Ponn.
But no girls basketball team at Luray has been 24-1 — ever.
Next week, the storied season rolls on as Luray will continue to play at home as the No. 1 seed in the Region 2B tournament. The Bulldogs host Clarke at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25.