POQUOSON — The showdown for first place in Bay Rivers District girls basketball was less battle than war of attrition. That's a kind of scrap for which patient Warhill is well-suited, as it showed in a 29-26 win at Poquoson on Tuesday.
The Lions (10-2, 9-2 district) moved into sole possession of first place in the district as they continue pursuit of a first-ever district basketball crown. It also gave the Lions a season sweep of the Islanders (10-3, 9-3) as those two and Lafayette battle for the top seed in the Colonial Rivers Conference 25 tournament.
"I don't know if Warhill has ever won in this gym," Lions coach Bingo Brungot said. "It's been a hard place to play, they play well in their house and it was like a chess match.
"It was a fun game and it does feel good, I won't lie. The kids are happy, they're pumped up, but, they say to me, 'We're going to enjoy it tonight and tomorrow we're back to work.' "
"They see the big picture. It's a step along the way and we hope we're fortunate enough to get there."
The Lions made their latest step with patience, lots of it on both sides of the floor. They were slowed by the Poquoson zone and, even after working methodically for good shots, they rarely hit them: going 9 of 31 from the floor.
But Warhill's 3-2 zone stifled all of the Islanders' favorite offensive ploys: cutting to the basket, shooting 3s and fast-breaking. As a result, the Islanders also had to work the ball around for long stretches just to get a shot off and they made only 9 of 39.
Some of the best players on the floor were most affected. Warhill's leading scorer, senior Kasey Grainer (13.2 ppg), went scoreless, while Poquoson seniors Sarah Davis (11.4 ppg) and Liz Kincaid (9.4 ppg) combined for just seven points.
It would be the freshmen and sophomores for the teams who had the biggest impact. Warhill freshman Olivia Schulz scored 10 of her 16 points in the first half, when Poquoson freshman Sondra Fan scored seven of her 11 as the teams were tied at 16-apiece at intermission.
The contest was still tied at 21-each with just under six minutes to play in the game when Schulz scored a basket and followed with two free throws to put the Lions ahead by four points. A stickback by Joyce Chow and a 3-pointer by Fan pushed Poquoson back in front at 26-25 with 2:26 to go.
Then the Warhill defense came back to life and Schulz and sophomore Kieran McClure paved the way to victory. McClure tipped a Poquoson pass to Grainer, who dribbled down court and passed to Schulz for a layup to give Warhill a 27-26 lead with 1:11 left.
"I saw Kasey coming and I knew she was going to pass it because that's the kind of senior leadership she shows," Schulz said.
The Warhill defense forced the Islanders into long 3s which they missed on their next two trips, and McClure made a free throw after both to stretch the lead to 29-26. Jewell Walters blocked Davis' last-second 3-point attempt, sealing the Lions biggest victory of the season.
"Everything was a struggle, but they had to struggle, too," Poquoson coach Jeff Gross said. "We focused on Grainer and held her scoreless and made the other girl (Schulz) beat us."
Schulz said, "It feels amazing (to be in first place), but as soon as we hit the gym tomorrow we'll be working to beat Tabb (on Thursday).
"That's the attitude."
WARHILL 29, POQUOSON 26
WARHILL (10-2, 9-2): Schulz 16, McClure 9, Epps 4. Totals 9 11-14 29.
POQUOSON (10-3, 9-3): Chow 4, Crawshaw 4, Davis 4, Fan 11, Kincaid 3. Totals 9 6-9 26.
Warhill61058 — 29Poquoson41255 — 26
3-point goals: Poquoson 2 (Fan 2).
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.