By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Feb. 22 — The top-seeded Luray High School girls basketball team dominated the first round of the Region B tournament with an impressive 71-20 win over eighth-seeded Stuarts Draft on Tuesday night. The win marks the third time this season Luray has posted more than 70 points, while they have recorded more than 60 points in 18 of 25 games this season.
Luray senior Emilee Weakley posted a game-high 31 points on the night, which brings her career total to 2,425 — only 379 points behind East Rockingham’s Tyler Nickel, who became the VHSL all-time leading scorer on Tuesday night with 2,804 points in his high school career. Both Nickel and Weakley have been the Bull Run District “Player of the Year” for three years running. At the end of this week, it is very likely they will both become the Region B “Player of the Year” for a third-consecutive season. And yes, they were both All-State selections as well.
The only difference…while both have two state championship appearances under their belts, only Weakley can claim a state title. With all of his many accolades, Nickel is still chasing his first state championship. The next two weeks will provide his last opportunity before heading to Chapel Hill to play for the University of North Carolina.
Weakley hasn’t seemed to slow down since a car accident recently left her in an arm brace the last two games. The Div.-II Shepherd University signee scored 97 points over three games in the Bull Run tournament last week.
For the first five minutes of Tuesday night’s Region B quarterfinal, the Cougars were able to stay within single digits of the No. 1 team in Virginia’s Class 2. However, what was a seven-point deficit just past midway in the first quarter, quickly grew as the Bulldogs went on a 12-2 run to end the period. Luray carried a 26-9 lead into the second quarter.
Stuarts Draft was outmatched all night. While their intensity and ball movement was good, the inexperience of 10 sophomores on the roster began to show. Even their slight height advantage didn’t pay off for one simple reason — shooting. The Cougars only made one shot from the floor in both the second and fourth quarters, while the Bulldogs did not miss more than five shots in any of the first three quarters.
Luray built up a 43-12 lead at the half, and the clock would run continuously in the second half as LHS head coach substituted frequently. The Cougars tried to keep pace with the fresh legs on the floor, making wholesale substitutions of five at a time — but the depth of the Luray bench was too much to overcome. While Stuarts Draft struggled with the top team in the state, the Cougars have a young team with a bright future ahead of them.
The Bulldogs finished with a dominating 51-point margin of victory on Tuesday behind 10 three-pointers on the night, including three from Weakley and two each from senior Amber Tharpe and sophomore Maggie Foltz. Ten different Bulldogs scored during the quarterfinal game. Behind Weakley’s 31 points, junior Jaidyn McClung and Foltz both posted seven points, while seniors Trinity Belton and Tharpe each added six.
Luray (23-2) will now host fifth-seeded Central of Woodstock (16-9) for the Region B semifinal at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24. The Falcons reached the semifinal after defeating fourth-seeded Strasburg, 49-37, on Tuesday night. Luray has beaten Central three times this season by an average margin of 21 points, including a 68-44 win last week in the semifinal round of the Bull Run tournament.
Thursday’s other semifinal matchup will see seventh-seeded Page County (10-13) travel to third-seeded Clarke (16-8). The Panthers upset No. 2 Buckingham, 52-39, on Tuesday night behind 17 points from senior Caris Lucas. Clarke beat sixth-seeded Madison, 46-40.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.
The PVN Sports broadcast crew selected
as the Blue Ridge Bank “Player of the Game“.
Weakley lead the Bulldogs in Tuesday night’s Region B quarterfinal with a game-high 31 points, bringing her high school career scoring total to 2,425.