School & Sports: Strasburg win is special for Lady Panthers

The Lady Panthers basketball team made history on their home court last Thursday night (Jan. 13) when they defeated Strasburg, 33-30. Veteran coaches commented that it had been at least 10 years since the last Rappahannock roundball victory over the archrival Rams.

The tug-of-war game generated ear-splitting crowd noise as the Panthers went head-to-head with Strasburg. The evenly matched teams balanced each other for most of the game. “Strasburg wasn’t shooting well,” coach Robbie Thornhill said, “and we weren’t protecting the ball very well. That kept the scoreboard constantly changing.”

Joslyn Smith commented on the hard work in the game. “We were running a lot. Since we are a small team, we can only sub so many times. They wanted to run us out. It was nerve-wracking, but our rebounds were really good. We stayed with the ball.”

“It was 12-11 for us at halftime,” coach Thornhill said. “In the third, we took the score up to 24-11, but Strasburg answered to make it 24-23. No girls were in foul trouble in the fourth quarter, so we were more aggressive. With about a minute to play, we were trailing, 30-29. Olivia [Hayden-Pless] grabbed a rebound and took it the distance for a lay-up. That put us up, 31-30. Then, she got fouled after Strasburg had a turnover. I told her if she caught the ball to cover it up and not even dribble — get them to foul her. They did.”

In the final seconds of the game, Hayden-Pless stepped up to shoot her free throw. “In past games, I usually psych-out on the line,” she said. “It’s strange because I can make them all day when we’re in practice. This time, I just had to calm down . . . relax . . . and SWISH!” Thornhill added: “They called a time out to ice her, and she got the shots anyway.”

Joslyn Smith, Hayden-Pless and Brittani Dodson hustled to get six rebounds each. Dodson led the team in steals, while Hayden-Pless led the Panthers with her 12 overall points. Dodson, Shelby Thornhill and Lauren Settle added five points apiece. “We did have 14 turnovers,” Thornhill admitted. “That’s what kept Strasburg in the game.

“We battled,” he said, “but the thing I was most proud of was Olivia buckling down and making those free throws.”

The Lady Panthers contend with Manassas Park tonight (Jan. 20) on the Cougars’ home court at 7.

9 Rapp students play in Va. Tech band

Nine students from Rappahannock County will travel to Blacksburg this weekend to participate in the annual Virginia Tech Honor Band. Accompanied by their band directors, David DeBoer and Ian Richard, as well as parent chaperones, the band members will participate in rehearsals, clinics and a “game night” before Sunday’s 1 p.m. concert in the Burruss Auditorium.

This year’s Virginia Tech Honor Band participants are, from Rappahannock County High School, James White, Lily Nealon, Katie Hale, Briana Winkworth and Lauren Light; and, from Rappahannock Elementary, Gabriel Hernandez, Ryan Athelli, AJ Palmer and Kayla Robey.

Last weekend, four sixth-graders and 19 high-school students from Rappahannock traveled to Culpeper as part of the 13th annual Tri-County Honor Band, which includes students from Culpeper, Fauquier and Rappahannock counties. The honor band performed a concert Saturday (Jan. 15) at Eastern View High School. –from contributed reports