By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Feb. 14 — The Luray Bulldogs have won all-but-one of their 11 games this season by double-digits, and they have won the last three in the Region 2B tournament by an average margin of nearly 32 points per game.
With a 77-47 Valentine’s Day win over No.7-seed Staunton on Sunday afternoon, Luray (11-0) captured the region title for the second-consecutive year and is now headed back to the VHSL AA tournament.
In an effort to maintain social distancing and meet COVID protocols, there was no trophy presentations and limited celebration at the end of the championship game.
This season the state tournament has been reduced from eight teams to four, with only the four region champions advancing. Luray will travel to King William (Region A champion) on Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off in the 2A semifinals. The 2A state championship will be played Saturday, Feb. 20 at either Gate City (Region D champ) or Glenvar (Region C champion).
Despite the reasonable ease that the Bulldogs have seemed to win with up to this point, LHS head coach Joe Lucas knows his team will remain focused and take nothing for granted.
“Our girls are mature and humble,” Coach Lucas said after Sunday’s win. “They know what they have in front of them.”
Staunton came into the title game after knocking off No.2-seed Madison County and No.3-seed Page County. The Storm entered the regional tournament with only three wins on the season, but played Luray strong in the title game through the first 12 minutes of the game.
LHS junior Emilee scored 13 of her game-high 39 points in the first quarter as Luray jumped out to a 17-12 lead. Staunton lead by as much as six in the opening minutes, but they would get outscored by the home team 21-11 in the second period and trail, 38-23, at the half.
The contest had remained a two-possession game until the Bulldogs went on a run midway through the second quarter and then never looked back.
Staunton (5-9) was lead by a tremendous effort from junior Emma Whitt, who scored 26 points on the afternoon, including an 11-of-13 effort at the foul line.
Luray was once again lead by Weakley, who posted 39 points on the day while playing limited minutes in the fourth quarter. Standout sophomore Jaidyn McClung had her best game of the season, adding 22 points.
Coach Lucas expects big play down low from King William, like what they saw from 6’2″ Keziah Williams of Staunton. The Bulldogs were able to hold the senior forward’s big presence in the paint scoreless in the title game.
“They’re big…similar to what we saw today,” Coach Lucas said of King William. “They have a big girl down low, and they try to run everything through her. They are athletic …similar to what we saw today.”
For the first time this season, Coach Lucas hopes to put together two full, back-to-back practices on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for the state tournament. And although the Bulldogs seem to be clicking on all cylinders, he says there is plenty to work on.
“These will be our first two days of consecutive practice all season … It will be nice to slow down and work on some things we need to work on,” Coach Lucas said. “We didn’t get off to a good start today.”
The two practices will focus on even stingier defense and getting even better shot opportunities on offense.
“We will shoot a lot…that’s the name of our game,” Coach Lucas said of the upcoming practices. “We need to put together a game plan and find a way to play them.
“We just need to try to find a way to win the next game.”
PVN Sports “Player of the Game” was LHS junior Emilee Weakley with a game-high 39 points in the Region 2B Championship.