Williams cover
Paul VI senior Laura Williams had 23 points and 16 rebounds as the Panthers advanced to the VISAA title game.

Paul VI girls defeat Potomac School, go for 17th straight VISAA title vs. Ireton

Laura Williams scored 23 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and junior Riley Hamburger hit four key free throws late, as Paul VI defeated Potomac School 52-46 in the VISAA Division I Semifinals Friday.

Paul VI, the 16-time defending Division I champion, advances to face WCAC rival Bishop Ireton Saturday afternoon in the championship at Benedictine in Richmond. The Cardinals defeated Catholic in the Friday nightcap at Benedictine, 76-50.

It was a tough fight for PVI the whole way against Potomac School, a battle-hardened team from the top division of the Independent School League. Potomac took a 14-7 lead after a quarter, with its zone defense frustrating Paul VI and limiting the defending champs’ formidable inside game. Potomac at one point stretched its lead to double digits, though Paul VI cut the lead by halftime to 24-20.

That’s when Paul VI got more physical, adjusted its lineups, and did a better job getting the ball into the post–the post usually being Williams. The University of Southern California signee also was relentless on the offensive boards in the second half. Williams, a senior, scored 16 of her 23 points after halftime, and got 13 of 16 rebounds after halftime.

As a result, Paul VI (19-14) soon took the lead in the third quarter. Potomac School didn’t go away, though. Potomac freshman Sabrina Anderson buried three second half threes, and senior forward Zoe Myslewicz had six points and six rebounds in the second half. It was a see-saw game late, with one of Anderson’s three-pointers giving her team a 46-45 lead with 2:30 left in the game.

Then, despite a less-dominant-than-usual regular season, PVI showed why PVI is still PVI.

“We didn’t want to lose the streak, which is older than most of us,” a smiling Hamburger said after the game.

Defense is a staple of Paul VI’s success, and Potomac School didn’t score again after Anderson’s three. Williams had a key blocked shot, and Hamburger was fouled twice, once on a drive to the basket and once in the backcourt after a Potomac offensive foul. She delivered with four free throws in a row to ice the game.

“I have faith in myself so I shot ’em like we always do,” Hamburger said. “A hundred or so free throws after every practice, everything. We don’t do that for nothing.”

Hamburger finished with 11 points, and sophomore Demi Gilliam added 10 points and 12 rebounds for Paul VI. Sophomore Lee Williams added six points, including a key second half three-pointer–her team’s only made three-pointer on the night.

Anderson led Potomac School (21-9) with 17 points, while sophomore Julia Jackson gave her team a nice lift off the bench with eight first half points. Juniors Catherine LeTendre and Zora Burrell also had solid games, combining for 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Hamburger (11 points) and says
Hamburger (11 points) says if her team just focuses and trusts each other, they can get it done.

It wasn’t enough against PVI, however, which now has to turn around and face a Bishop Ireton team still smarting after a loss to Paul VI a few weeks ago, and as eager as Potomac to end PVI’s championship streak. Hamburger and some of her teammates are a little banged up after the tough win over Potomac, but nobody is betting against them.

[In the second half] we just realized we were better than we were playing,” said Hamburger. “We need to just focus and trust each other.”

–Chris Jollay

all statistics are unofficial

LIMCAOCO 0-4 0-0  0  1  0
LEE WILLIAMS 2-2 1-2  6  3  4
GILLIAM 4-7 2-5  10  12  1
HAMBURGER 2-11 7-10  11  2  3
LAURA WILLIAMS 9-26 5-8  23  16  3
Rachmat-Jones 0-2 0-0  0  2  1
Nicholson 0-0 0-0  0  0  0
Grepps 1-1 0-0  2  0  1
Miller 0-0 0-0  0  1  1
TOTALS 18-53 15-25  52  37  14
Threes: Lee Williams 1-1, Laura Williams 0-1, Rachmat-Jones 0-2, Limcaoco 0-4, Hamburger 0-5
LeTENDRE 3-8 0-0  8  7  1
BURRELL 2-8 3-5  7  8  2
MYSLEWICZ 3-5 0-0  6  6  0
ANDERSON 6-20 0-0  17  4  2
GREENE 0-2 0-0  0  2  1
Crittenberger 0-2 0-0  0  3  1
Jackson 2-5 3-8  8  0  0
TOTALS 16-50 6-13  46  30  7
Threes: Anderson 5-13, LeTendre 2-4, Jackson 1-2, Crittenberger 0-1, Greene 0-2