Bianca André’s Greenbrier East teammates call her ‘B.’
Thursday night in the Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 championship game, they could have called her ‘A.’
For ‘A’ game.
André put on a show —scoring, rebounding and leadership — as the 24-0 defending state champion Lady Spartans rolled to a 68-51 victory over Princeton at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building.
The smooth-shooting, 6-foot-1 senior had 12 points and six rebounds in the first quarter alone as East moved to a 22-10 lead.
“A lot of times I’ll score two points in the first half and then score in the second half,” André said. “I knew I couldn’t do that tonight. Princeton’s a good team. I knew I had to get off good.”
Class AAA No. 7 Princeton (18-5) never really recovered, despite André going quiet in the second period. The Tigerettes’ Mackenzie Akers, like André a first-team all-stater, struggled from the floor.
Princeton made just 17 of 71 shots, including 6 of 31 by Akers.
“The shots weren’t falling for us,” coach Debbie Ball said. “We just weren’t meant to hit tonight.”
André scored just three points in the second period, but still played a smart floor game.
“Sometimes I let up, but sometimes I want to get everyone involved,” André said. “If I’m the only one scoring, we’re not going to win.”
The Spartans led by as many as 16 points in the first half, and was up by 20, 41-21, early in the second half.
Princeton, known for its great 3-point shooting, made several mini-rallies keyed by its defense, rather than 3s.
But whenever the Tigerettes would make a four- or six-point charge, it seemed someone, particularly junior guard Elizabeth Romeo, would hit a key shot.
“Those shots were huge,” Justice said. “We threw everything we had at Princeton to keep the lead.”
Romeo finished with three 3s, 15 points and six rebounds despite leaving the game late with an ankle injury.
“Liz is always getting her hands on the ball,” coach Jim Justice said. “She goes to the floor after loose balls, she slashes to the basket and she hits key shots. She’s a heck of a player.”
Any chance of a final Princeton comeback in the fourth stanza was thwarted by a cool-as-ice André sinking 11 of 12 free throws.
“I practice them a lot. Free throws are what makes you a good player,” she said. “I take pride in them.”
André finished with 29 points, 21 rebounds, five assists and five blocked shots. She was 2 of 2 from beyond the 3-point arc and 13 of 15 from the foul line.
“We’ve been looking for that,” Justice said. “The last month she’s given us that. She’s playing very well.”
Junior wing Chaunté McDowell added 14 points and six boards for the Spartans, who will host Capital Tuesday night in Fairlea for the regional championship.
Akers scored 21 points and Khadija Payne scored 11 for Princeton,.
“Our girls didn’t give up tonight,” Ball said. “If a couple of those 3s had fallen (early) tonight, it would have made a big difference.”
The Tigerettes will travel to Section 1 champion George Washington Tuesday night.
The Patriots defeated Capital 61-35 Thursday.
— E-mail: dstillwell
For team high school basketball coverage, check us out online at www.register-herald.com and look for the link for In The Paint
Mackenzie Akers 6-31 6-7 21, Marissa Mullins 2-10 0-1 5, Khadija Payne 3-7 5-8 11, Hannah Preservati 2-12 0-1 5, Rachel Surface 3-5 0-0 6, Jessica Inman 1-3 0-0 3, Stephanie Lambert 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 17-71 11-17 51.
Greenbrier East (24-0)
Elizabeth Romeo 5-11 2-2 15, Bianca André 7-13 13-15 29, Maddee Carroll 0-2 1-2 1, Chloe Honaker 2-3 0-0 4, Chaunté McDowell 4-12 5-6 14, Victoria Krystynak 0-0 1-2 1, Lexi Tincher 1-1 1-2 4, Caitland Boggs 0-0 0-0 0, CeCe Grant 0-0 0-0 0, Shareen Aaron 0-0 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Mize 0-0 0-0 0, Makena Blankenship 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-42 23-29 68.
P 10 11 17 13 — 51
GE 22 13 18 15 — 68
3-point goals — P: 6-37 (Akers 3-14, Mullins 1-8, Preservati 1-10, Inman 1-3; GE: 7-19 (Romeo 3-8, André 2-2, Honaker 0-1, McDowell 1-7, Tincher 1-1). Fouled out — None.
Bianca André’s Greenbrier East teammates call her ‘B.’
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