Panthers defeat Saints, earn 11th straight crown
Paul VI beat St. Anne’s-Belfield, 70-49, on Saturday, giving the Panthers an 11th straight Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I girls’ championship.
“Eleven,” Paul VI Coach Scott Allen repeated while driving the bus back from Richmond after the game. “It’s pretty crazy.”
The No. 2 Panthers (32-2) were tested by the Saints and star guard Brianna Tinsley, who is signed to play at Virginia next season. Paul VI led by just six at halftime because of Tinsley’s perimeter shooting, and Allen said his team was simply not locating her on defense.
But the Panthers snapped into focus out of the break and started sprinting past St. Anne’s-Belfield. Mikalya Vaughn scored 10 of her team-high 17 points in the third quarter. Amira Collins had eight of her 16 in the fourth. Once Paul VI started working the ball inside in the second — Vaughn is 6 feet 4 and Collins is 6-3 — the lead kept ballooning.
“You know we didn’t win the WCAC championship, and I had personally never won a championship in high school, so I think this was really important to us,” said Vaughn, a senior committed to Notre Dame. “We realized that if [Tinsley] hit two more threes, the game would have been tied, and we were letting them hang around too long, so we stepped it up.”
In the first half, Paul VI was paced by guards Ashley Owusu and Honesty Scott-Grayson. Owusu scored eight of her 14 points in the second quarter, and Scott-Grayson scored eight of her 12 in the first half. The Panthers also got an early lift from Kate Klimkiewicz, who netted seven in the first quarter.
Then the Panthers rolled once their forwards got going. Tinsley had a game-high 29 points for the Saints (24-4) but couldn’t outshoot Paul VI’s dynamic offense. The Panthers’ only losses this season have come against No. 1 St. John’s — on the road Jan. 24 and in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship — and they will not end it without a title.
“I feel like winning two straight, three straight is really hard to do,” Vaughn said. “But 11 straight? That’s extremely hard to do, and it’s really cool to be a part of a tradition like that here.”
Paul VI boys fall in title game
Paul VI never cooled off Trinity Episcopal in a 95-78 loss in the VISAA Division I boys’ championship Saturday.
“Unfortunately, defense wins championships,” Panthers Coach Glenn Farello said. “If you can’t find a way to get stops, the other team is going to kind of prevail.”
Trinity Episcopal shot 70 percent from the field, including 10 for 15 from behind the threepoint line. Zach Jacobs, a 6-7 senior committed to play at James Madison, scored 38 by making 16 of 20 attempts. The No. 4 Panthers (28-6) trailed by just six at halftime before the Titans scored 53 second-half points to pull away at Virginia State University.
Brandon Slater led Paul VI with 18 points, point guard Jeremy Roach finished with 16, Anthony Harris netted 15 and Pittsburgh commit Aaron Thompson notched 12. But Farello noted that the Panthers — who fell to No. 2 Gonzaga in the WCAC championship Monday — were well behind before any of their players stood out offensively.
“The way I kind of describe it as that in a championship game, you have to raise your game to another level,” Farello said. “Trinity Christian did, and we did not have an answer for it.”