BRISTOL, Va. — The Abingdon girls saw their postseason run come to an end last Tuesday night, as the Falcons fell to Lord Botetourt High School, 54-51, in the VHSL Class 3 state semifinals.
“Abingdon’s a great team. We’ve played each other four times. One time we got them pretty good, the other time they got us pretty good, and then these last two have come right down to the wire,” Cavaliers head coach Chuck Pound said. “I told [Falcons head coach Jimmy Brown] that I hate that this couldn’t have been in Richmond [playing for the state title].”
A sluggish second quarter proved to be the downfall for Abingdon, as the Falcons were unable to make up the deficit despite outscoring Lord Botetourt 32-29 in the second half. Sophomore guard Peyton Carter scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to bring the Falcons within one possession of the Cavaliers, but a last second 3-point attempt from senior Grace Hess to force overtime came up just short of the basket.
“We put our hearts out on that court,” Carter said. “Our seniors led us this year, and I want to thank them. We put our hearts out there, and while we did execute, we didn’t really when we needed to. Everybody really wanted it, and everybody tried as hard as they could, but I guess [Lord Botetourt] just wanted it a little bit more.”
After the loss, Brown said that, while it was a good game, he wished his team had one more chance against Lord Botetourt.
“I wish there was a Game 5,” he said. “That’s 2-2 [against Lord Botetourt this season], and I wish we had one more shot at them, but it was a great game, and I’m extremely proud of my kids. I feel like [Lord Botetourt] made a few shots when they needed them, and we missed enough easy ones to maybe be up at the end instead of down. But it was a heck of a game, and I wish all the best to Botetourt in the finals.”
Carter provided the bulk of the offense for the Falcons in the loss, scoring 31 points while accounting for all seven of the team’s 3-point field goals. Abingdon’s three seniors — Hess, Mattie Gibson and Taylor Gilbert — combined to score 16 points on five field goals while shooting 4-of-5 from the free-throw line in the final game of their high school careers.
Pound commented on Carter’s performance, saying that the team had a tough time covering her throughout the game, and her play caused worry on the Cavaliers’ bench.
“I felt pretty good about it, but there was plenty of doubt [if the Cavaliers would win], especially with the way [Peyton] Carter was playing,” Pound said. “She just — wow. She was just really good.”
With the win over Abingdon, Lord Botetourt advanced to the VHSL Class 3 finals, where it took on Hopewell High School at Virginia Commonwealth University on Saturday and soared to a 53-45 victory and a claim to the state title.
Despite Abingdon’s loss, Carter said she was able to come away from the game with some positives for the team.
“We went further than we ever expected we could. We never expected to go this far,” she said. “We had a goal that we wanted to get this far, but we never thought that we could do it. We just tried our hardest to get here, and we’re just so proud, and we need to walk out of here with our heads held high and just know that we did our best and we played our hearts out in every game that we played.”
While the Falcons will be losing three seniors, Carter thinks that the team will be able to regroup and make it back into the state tournament next year, if not the championship game.
“We’re going to try,” Carter said. “We’re going to be losing a couple starters, but we’re going to work hard, and just knowing that we’re a young team, we just got to step up and want it more.”