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The Northside Vikings sailed into Staunton River's gym with an impressive overall record of 9-2.
The invaders were picked by a local daily to win the Blue Ridge.
The team seems to have it all: speed, quickness, height and talent.
They also have another thing: a loss suffered at the hands of the Lady Eagles.
In what was, easily, Staunton River's best performance of the year, the Lady Eagles went to overtime to top the Northsiders, 63-62.
The victory was only the third of the season for the Lady Eagles. But (and this is a big point) it gave River a Blue Ridge District mark of 2-0, putting it into a tie for first place with Lord Botetourt, heading into the teams' showdown on Friday night.
The win over Northside was keyed in large part by one player who has done much to build up the program and another who could be the face of its future success.
In overtime, Senior Brie Holdren nailed a jump shot from just inside the three-point arc. That shot came with under 10 seconds remaining, and it propelled the Eagles past the Vikes for the first time in the extra period.
Holdren was in position to win it because of critical back-to-back plays by Madison Meador. With her team trailing by six points and less than 90 ticks on the clock, the feisty freshman drilled a three-pointer. She then picked the pocket of the Northside point guard and converted it into two more points.
Northside faltered at the free throw line to give the Eagles a chance. Holdren seized the day as Lauren Mitchell found her, uncovered, with the inbounds pass.
"That was a set play, and Lauren made a nice pass," noted Holdren. "I knew it was good when I put it up."
Northside had beaten James River 81-59 exactly one week after James River had pummelled Staunton River, 50-21. (James River would later beat the Golden Eagles again, 52-39.)
In the season's early going, the Vikes were clearly the cream of the Blue Ridge crop. Well, those wearing black and gold weren't drinking that particular Kool-Aid.
"It's been an uphill battle, but our hard work is paying off," said Staunton River Head Coach Kim Jones. "Our confidence is much higher."
Indeed, the Eagles came out of the blocks looking like a bold bunch. They held a 10-12 point lead throughout much of the first half.
The Vikings, however, showed why they are so highly-regarded, clawing their way back into contention with a 13-4 run to start the third quarter.
Early in the fourth period, Northside's Emma Wade nailed a pair of free throws to give her team its first lead and provide the Eagles with reason to hang their heads.
That didn't happen, however. The Riverladies hung tough, and Asia Stephens's hard drive through the paint tied the game in regulation.
Holdren and Meador led the way for Staunton River. The senior netted 15 points, while the frosh scored 14. The Stephens sisters combined for 14 points, with Sydney scoring eight and Asia adding six.
The win helped put some distance between the team and its 0-6 season. "We had a difficult non-district schedule," noted Assistant Coach John Huddleston. "You don't like to play weak teams. I think that helped us."
It certainly seemed that way against Northside
Regrettably, the Lady Eagles stumbled on Friday night. That mishap came in the form of a 57-28 thrashing at the hands of Lord Botetourt.
The Lady Cav defense was the name of this game. It did the following:
-Held Staunton River to under 10 points in every quarter.
-Limited River's top scorer in the game, Brie Holdren, to six points.
-Snagged 19 steals over the course of the evening.
The broke a two-team tie atop the Blue Ridge standings,, leaving the Eagles looking up at the Bots.