The Paul VI Lady Panthers Varsity Basketball team captured an amazing fifth consecutive Virginia Independent Schools State Championship with an incredible overtime win, 48-41, over Flint Hill Saturday in Richmond. Freshman forward Ariana Freeman was fouled as the regulation game clock expired and sank two free throws with no time left on the clock to tie the score 37-37 and force overtime. In OT, the Panthers momentum rolled as Sophomore Guard and State Tournament MVP, Marlena Tremba, hit a three pointer, made 4 straight free throws coupled with a lay-up from Freeman outscoring Flint Hill 9 - 2 in OT, sealing the 5th consecutive VIS State Title for the Panthers. Senior Devan Fitzsimmons and Freshman Ariana Freeman were named to the All-Tournament team. Sophomore Marlena Tremba was named State Tournament MVP. Senior Devan Fitzsimmons ends her basketball career at Paul VI going 4 for 4 in state titles.
The road the the finals began with a 65-25 Quarter-Final win over St Gertrude's at home Wednesday. PVI then faced rival # 4 seed Bishop O'Connell on Friday in the State Semi-finals at Benedictine High School in Richmond which hosted the State Championships. The lady panthers came away with a 71-51 win setting up last years finals rematch against Flint Hill.
The State Championship win tops off an amazing season for the youthful Lady Panthers, who’s roster consists of three freshman, six sophomores, and two seniors. PVI returned only captain Devan Fitzsimmons from the 2009-10 season and featured ten new faces that have never played together. PVI finishes with 21 wins which includes 10 WCAC conference wins on the season. The 21 wins is the second most wins in PVI girls basketball history as well as the ten conference wins. The future looks very bright and exciting!!
Lady Panthers win 4th State Championship in a row!!
The PVI Lady Panthers Varsity Girls Basketball team had an incredible journey this week playing five games in five days! It started with a win Wednesday at home against St. Gertrude (Richmond) in the Virginia Independent Schools State Tournament Quarter Finals. Thursday they went to Holy Cross in the Quarter finals of the WCAC tournament and upset them at the buzzer – Devan Fitzsimmons hit a 15 footer with 3 seconds remaining! Then off to Richmond for the VIS Semis/Final. Friday night they beat a pesky Bishop Sullivan team by 24 to move to the final (Blair Koniszewski hit 7 three pointers!!) against Flint Hill. Suffice it to say that they were starting to get tired. But they overcame a very tough FH team in 2 OT’s to capture their 4th consecutive State Title! All tournament team honors for Blair, Maya Singleton, and Jess Long. Jess long was named MVP of the tournament! Mr. Menke (our retiring AD) was there for the game and proudly posed for pictures with the team, the seniors, and just about anybody that wanted. He was really proud to have his last basketball championship of his 42 year career!! He will surely be missed at PVI!!
As Coach Allen said – "we are like a driver going down the highway with the fuel light on – trying to go as far as we can before we run out of gas! Well yesterday they ran out. In the semi-final of the WCAC tournament at American Univ. Elizabeth Seton brought the season to an end. Our girls played hard the whole game but it was obvious from the beginning that they had the freshest legs. We struggled and lost a very emotional game. It was the last game for Blair and Melissa Westphal our seniors and they really wanted to go out with a win.
The whole team should be proud – they won 23 games (school record) – 12 conference games (school record) – won the VISGBA state championship, made it to the semi-final of the WCAC for only the 2nd time in 8 years – won 12 out of their last 14 games and one of the most impressive accomplishments in PVI history – Blair Koniszewski made 103 three pointers this season to lead all players in the Metro area (boys and girls)!!! WOW. What a year. The coaching staff and followers of the Lady Panthers are VERY Proud of their dedication and hard work this season as it will be a season that will never be forgotten.
Thank you to all the supported us throughout this season as it would not have been possible with out your help!
Paul VI Advances Past Holy Cross in Dramatic Fashion by Jamie Lovegrove A hard-fought victory may have taken a game-winning shot with less than four seconds left, but the Paul VI Lady Panthers finally advanced past the Holy Cross Tartans in the WCAC quarterfinals on Thursday evening. Devan Fitzsimmons hit a jumper from the elbow as the seconds ticked down to take the lead that her team would maintain until the buzzer, as they picked the 45-43 win.
“What a great battle,” exclaimed Panthers head coach Scott Allen after his team narrowly pulled out the win. “It was one of those games that you knew coming into it that it would turn out to be a close one like this, and we knew that even if we were up we would have to fight for it. Both teams made some big plays, and it probably could have gone either way, but all credit to our girls who just played fantastically down the stretch to win it.”
Although the Panthers held at least a two-point lead for the entire first half, they were never able to extend it to any more than eight, and for most of the way it was even closer than that. Despite some adverse moments, the Tartans played tough, physical basketball to hang with the Panthers in the first half and go in only down by 22-20.
WCAC Scoring Leaders
29: Marshall, Seton
18: Rowser, St. John’s
18: McCormick, Ryken
18: Anderson, Carroll
16: McCarley, Holy Cross
16: Bryant, McNamara
15: Jones, St. John’s
14: Fioravanti, Good Counsel
14: Brown, McNamara
13: Zimmer, St. John’s
The roles almost reversed in the second half, as the Tartans began to find more efficient forms of execution to take a few small leads of their own. Once again, however, the nearly inseparable teams remained close throughout the affair, as the excitable home crowd for Holy Cross started to realize that it was going to come right down to the end.
Down 43-41 with 30 seconds to go, Akilah Bethel had the composure to knock down two crucial free-throws for the Tartans to tie it back up. Once the clock wound down to 10 seconds, Coach Allen called a timeout to draw up one final play that he hoped would propel his girls to victory.
Although it may not have gone perfectly to plan, the result was as perfect as Allen could have asked for, as Fitzsimmons caught the ball in the back door and nailed a mid-range jumper. The Tartans were unable to produce anything with the four seconds remaining on the clock, and the elated Panthers were officially triumphant.
“Devan has probably practiced thousands of those shots over the last couple of months, and in that moment we just got the luck,” said Allen on the game-winning play. “We were always planning on the shot to go to Devan, it was her intelligence though that led her to take the jumper instead of trying to force something in down low. Sometimes they go in, sometimes it doesn’t, we were certainly fortunate, but that’s playoff basketball.”
Freshman guard Taylor McCarley of Holy Cross led by example for her older teammates, as her season-high 16 points kept the Tartans in the game for much of the affair. Although it was Fitzsimmons that hit the game-winning shot, Meredith Mesaris and Blair Koniszewski led the way for the Panthers with 12 and 11 points respectively.
The Panthers have an intimidating schedule ahead of them, as they could potentially play games in five consecutive days due to the WCAC and Virginia Independent School tournaments intertwining. While that may sound hard, the Panthers will simply be hoping that they do get to play on all five of those days, as if they do it will mean that they reached both championship games. As the fifth seed, the Panthers will play first seed Elizabeth Seton in the semifinals at American University on Sunday.
Paul VI: Mesaris 12, Koniszewski 11, Long 7, Fitzsimmons 4, Lambert 4, Singletown 3, Westphal 2, Crockett 2
Holy Cross: McCarley 16, Bethel 7, Wilson 6, Mitchell 4, Montgomery 4, Brown 3, Jackson 2, Thompson 1