Kayla Soltys and Destiny Ramcharan entered the DAC tournament final Saturday as seniors who have each scored more than 1,100 points in their Highland careers.
And, fittingly, then they both set new career highs for single-game scoring to help the Hawks win the tournament championship for the second consecutive season with a dominant 77-39 victory over Seton at home in Warrenton.
The Hawks exploded offensively behind an electric performance by Soltys, who finished with an astounding 39 points and nine 3-pointers.
“I have never made that many,” Soltys said. “Once it left my hands I knew they were going in.”
She made 64 percent of her 3-point attempts (9-of-14) to finish 15-for-23 overall on field goals (65 percent).
“Kayla has been shooting very well in practice this week,” Hawks girls basketball coach Diana Martinez said. “Once she saw the first one fall it was over from there. All I could do was pace up and down the sidelines.”
So Soltys increased her career total to 1,785 points and was named DAC Player of the Year after also helping Highland (18-7) win the regular season championship. Ramcharan added a career-high 24 points to boost her all-time total to 1,162.
“Destiny is a great player,” Martinez said. “She is able to catch the ball in spots that you don’t think we would throw a pass to. Her ability to catch and finish in traffic is second to none in this conference.”
But that wasn’t her only option against Seton.
“It’s pretty easy when I can just pass it to Kayla [Soltys] and I know it is going to go in,” Ramcharan said.
Ramcharan also finished with eight rebounds and two blocks, while Abby Soltys had 11 assists, six rebounds and three steals. Alyssa Austin added seven assists and two steals.
So the Hawks took a 33-13 lead into halftime with Soltys and Ramcharan each scoring 15 points in the first half, combining for 91 percent of Highland’s scoring. And the Hawks didn’t let up in the third quarter, extending their lead to 57-26 headed into the final frame.
“We usually struggle in the third quarter and that is when teams jump on us,” Soltys said. “We came out strong today in the third.
“We know that we can play like this now, so we have to come out with that kind of energy every game and every quarter,” she said. “This is proof that we can beat our rivals by like 40.”
The victory over Seton gave Highland a 13-game winning streak.
“We really played together. That is the biggest thing,” Martinez said. “Every girl on the court did a great job tonight. We wanted to make sure they went out there, did their role and did it like all-stars.
“We have never put together a complete game of basketball, so it is great to do it on the night of a championship game,” she said. “They played their hearts out.”
So Highland earned a first-round bye in the upcoming VISAA Division II state tournament as the No. 1 seed. They will next play Wednesday in the semifinals against the winner of a first-round game between No. 8 Isle of Wight and No. 9 Fredericksburg Christian.
Seton also earned a first-round bye as the No. 3 seed, so the Conquistadors could theoretically face Highland again in the state final. The Hawks would enter that game with a six-game winning streak against Seton thanks to their 38-point win Saturday.
“This gives us confidence going into states,” Ramcharan said.