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Wakefield girls rout Tidewater, 62-38, make state final

Friday, Mar. 1 | By Peter Brewington
--Times-Democrat Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Wakefield School hasn’t lost a girls basketball game since Jan. 10.

That’s how well the Owls are playing. Now they are one win from the promised land.

After struggling early in the first quarter, No. 2 seeded Wakefield turned up the defense and sprinted away from Tidewater Academy in Friday’s VISAA Division 3 semifinals in The Plains, winning 62-38 to advance to Saturday’s state championship against prohibitive favorite and No. 1 seed Amelia Academy. The final is at Wakefield at 3 p.m.

“I’m happy, this is as far as we’ve ever gone. It’s the most wins in school history, we’ve won 18 in a row. We’re playing well,” said coach Paul Sipes, who also went out of his way to praise his girls’ character. “I’m very proud of them. They’re very good teammates to each other,” he said.

Owls players hugged classmates and family members after this win, which represents Wakefield's first trip to the girls basketball state championship. Highland School has played for the state title several times.

Sipes’ teams team lost in the state semifinals in 2011 and 2012. The coach said earning the No. 2 seed was key as it helped bracketing, and kept them away from the No. 1 seed until the final. Tidewater came in as the No. 6 seed after upsetting No. 3 Roanoke Catholic 47-40 in Wednesday’s quarters.

Wakefield started very slowly against a team that ironically hails from Wakefield, Va. They trailed 6-0 and did not score until Airielle Jenkins broke the ice with a 15-foot shot three-and-a-half minutes into the game.

The Owls (25-6) had problems getting good looks against the Warriors’ 1-3-1 matchup zone, but overcame them with stifling man-to-man defense.

“We were holding the ball too long. It was a simple fix. We also turned our ‘D’ up,” said Sipes.

Trailing 10-4, Wakefield went on a 11-2 run to close the quarter ahead 15-12.

The Owls outscored the Warriors (22-9) 19-6 in the second quarter to lead 34-18 at the break.

Emily Granruth caused a steal then dribbled upcourt to drill a pullup 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to send the Owls into intermission with their swagger fully restored.

The third quarter also went well for the home team, which went on an 11-3 run to lead 45-21 and put the game out of reach.

Granruth led the Owls with 21 points, Jenkins totaled 16, Alexis Smith had 12 and drilled three 3-pointers, and Kelly Mason scored eight.

Cary Beahm was a shining star for Tidewater, scoring 28 of her team's 35 points. Beahm had all 17 of her team's points in the second half except for three credited to the Warriors on a scoring error.

The Owls hope to dial it up a notch in Saturday’s final against top seed Amelia Academy at 3 p.m.

Sipes is portraying his team as the underdog, even with the game being played at home. "We can win," he said.

Amelia Academy (26-6), located southwest of Richmond, has two prominent post players in 6-foot-4 Andrea Anicic and 6-2 Moona Hamalainen. They also have a speedy guard in Megan Jacoby, and can get up and down the court smartly even with their size.

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