WARDELL, Va. — Paybacks can be sweet.
After losing to Honaker in the Region 1D finals last year, Patrick Henry returned the favor in 2020.
Patrick Henry won its 21st straight game and what some believe to be the first regional girls basketball title in school history. The Rebels snapped Honaker’s 15-game winning streak in taking home the big trophy.
“I believe this is the first regional title ever,” Patrick Henry coach Tommy Thomas said. “We’ve finished runner-up a few times.
“Getting down and the way they came back says a lot about these girls’ character. We had girls all over the floor diving after the ball — they wanted it. You can’t teach heart.”
It looked like it might be a blowout early. Patrick Henry (24-2) went up 21-7 midway through the second quarter. Then Breanna Yarber picked up her third foul with 4:05 to play in the first half. Kaycee Deskins made a foul shot for the Rebels, but they wouldn’t score again. Honaker closed the half on a 10-0 run to pull within 22-17 at the break.
“I took Breanna out and left her out more than some coaches might have,” Thomas said. “I knew we needed her at the end; we needed everyone available late in the game.”
Honaker kept the momentum and took its first lead on a bucket by LeeAnna McNulty with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter. They led by as many as five early in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense stepped up at the end,” Thomas said. “We got a steal, and we got a couple big defensive rebounds.”
Payton Monahan hit a clutch 3-pointer, Natalie Strait tied it on a shot inside, and Yarber added a couple big baskets for the Rebels. Deskins made two big free throws to ice it with six seconds left.
Honaker (21-6) made only 33% of its shots. The Tigers were a dismal 1-of-17 behind the arc.
“We had a very slow start, and we probably shot worse tonight then we have all season,” Honaker coach Misty Miller said. “We had a night we couldn’t get shots to fall; against a good team like Patrick Henry, it’s hard to come away with a win.”
McNulty with a game-high 26 points was the only player in double figures for the Tigers.
Yarber (18 points) and Monahan (14 points) paced the Rebels, who will play Galax on March 6 in the state quarterfinals.
“They are talented girls, every one of them,” said Thomas. “The effort and the heart they play with is unbelievable; they’re not about ‘I want to be the star,’ they’re about ‘I want to win.’”