Championship Rewind: One For The Ages

The Broadway Gobblers brought more than just a great team to VCU, they had the finest community support of any program in the tournament. Here at Gameday, we have become Gobbler Fans!
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Lukas Mihailovich's 33 points led Potomac Falls to its first ever state title on Saturday night....
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Chantal Thomas and the George Mason Mustangs won their second straight state championship Saturday with a win over Lancaster...
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RICHMOND, VA - 30 games in 5 days allows for some amazing perspective on this past week's VHSL State Championships. It was a week full of incredible performances, heart wrenching defeats, and inspirational victories. The storylines could fill up an entire newspaper, and the memories will last a lifetime.

There is no greater feeling than winning a state championship on the biggest stage, and there is no worse feeling than losing in the final game. I experienced both in my high school days as an athlete, and sometimes I remember the feeling of defeat more than the feeling of victory.

Out of the 30 games we produced here at Gameday, nearly all of them were down to the wire. Big time players stepped up in key moments to secure their team's chances at a ring, and when the finals came around, the lights shined even brighter on them.

The 2010 VHSL Championships will forever be special to me, and the staff here at Gameday for several reasons. In 1997, the year Potomac Falls opened, my sister played Volleyball for the Panthers as a freshman. I followed the school's athletics closely, and a few years later, I met Jeff Hawes.

Hawes was just in the beginning stages of building his program, but it was clear to see that the man had a vision. On Saturday, that vision became a reality, and a dream came true.

As a broadcaster, my job is to be unbiased, but I couldn't be on Saturday in the final seconds of the Division 4 state championship game. The moment the game was in hand, I stood from my chair like the droves of Panther fans that made the trip to the Siegel Center, and raised my fists in the air.

I'm a fan of people that are passionate about what they do, and that care about other people so much that it brings them to tears when they talk about their feelings. To watch Hawes turn to the crowd and experience that moment brought tears to my eyes, and still does when I watch the replay.

I wasn't alone either, Tom Whipple's eyes swelled up, and on Monday, when our colleague Bruce Bornarth watched the ending of the game in our office, he couldn't hold back the tears either.

The reason we feel so connected to Hawes is because he has welcomed us into his world over the years. Always giving each of us a big hug, and thanking us for coming to give his kids coverage.

We all have the opportunity to make a footprint that lasts forever. We can make a difference in a community, or in someone else's life. That's what Hawes has done, and Saturday's championship win was one of the finest moments I have ever covered on our network in the past decade.

The Panthers will forever be known as the first team ever in the history of Loudoun County to win a state championship in boys' basketball, and that is pretty special too.

Hawes' kids played the game of their life on Saturday, and they made an entire community of people proud of their accomplishment.

With nearly every player on the roster coming back next year, the Panthers could very well be back again playing on the final day of the season.

Community Support:
One of the great things about being present for all 30 games this past week was being able to witness the unbelievable community support provided for each team. The Broadway Gobblers have something special going on, and clearly had the best support of any program all week long.

When the Gobblers played, the entire Siegel Center turned green, and they were the loudest crowd by far. Madison County's "MADHOUSE" crowd finished second in my book, and they made the week fun as well.

With some areas of Broadway not getting the live TV feed, scores of Gobbler fans got together to watch the games online at We heard from them during the game, and it was easy to see how much they loved their basketball team.

We learned that the best place to eat in Broadway was the Southern Kitchen. That info was provided by 10 year old Gavin Rush, who joined us at halftime of the championship game wearing his Gobbler jersey, and saying he can't wait to grow up to play hoops for Broadway.

It was a neat experience for me, as that kind of support and love for a team is what it is all about. I think Gameday may be making a few trips down to Broadway next basketball season if the Gobbler Nation will have us.

Back To Back:
When the dust settled, several teams secured their second consecutive state championship, an impressive feat to say the least. The George Mason Mustangs beat Lancaster by 11 to lock up their back to back bid, and Freedom pounced on Spotswood to do the same.

The Lady Eagles and Lady Mustangs have been the cream of the crop in Northern Virginia over the past two seasons, and they have etched their place in the record books as well as two time champions.

We saw the great careers of Freedom's Kelsey Buchanon and George Mason's Chantal Thomas come to an end. Both players meant so much to their teams, and they will be hard to replace.

The Cave Spring Knights were one of my favorite teams to watch, and they once again proved they were the best Division 3 team by beating Brunswick in the championship game for the second year in a row.

Behind Clay Lacy's 16 first half points, the Knights got the lead they needed, and washed the game away late. Senior Josh Henderson (Vanderbilt) was again impressive in the final two games of the season.

Knights head coach Billy Hicks is truly one of the best coaches this state has, and his team rarely makes mistakes. If Cave Spring has a lead with under 4 minutes to go, the game is usually over. They are the best I've seen at salting a game with their free throw shooting, and execution down the stretch.

A Tournament of Firsts:
The Winchester area has been starving for a state championship in girls' basketball for sometime, and on Saturday, they finally got one. The Millbrook Pioneers rolled to an 11 point victory over Greensville County, and they benefited from one of the gutsiest performances we saw all week.

With her team trailing by 8 early, Millbrook's Courtni Green stepped up in a big way. She came up with several huge steals, and by mid-way through the 3rd quarter, she had scored 20 points.

It was at that time in the game where we learned what kind of heart Green has. On her way to the basket, Green badly sprained her ankle, and had to come out of the game. She was in horrible pain, and it was unclear as to whether or not she would return.

A few minutes later, Green limped back onto the court, and proceeded to score 11 points in the final quarter to lead her team to their first state championship. It was an inspiring performance, and one that Pioneer fans will never forget.

Lost in the mix of Green's 31 point day, was the fact that she surpassed the 1,000 point mark for her career. Her coach Debbie Sanders shared a nice moment in the 4th quarter with her super sophomore guard, and both had tears streaming down their faces.

That was a moment I will never forget.

The Lake Taylor Titans also made history this past week, beating defending champion Princess Anne in the title game. It was the first state title for the Lady Titans, and their second win over the Cavaliers this season. They were the only program to beat Princess Anne, and a new rivalry was born in the process.

The Madison County Mountaineers finished their magical season undefeated at 26-0 after they defeated Altavista 41-38 in the Division 1 championship game. It was the first state title for the Mountaineers in 33 years, and that accomplishment was achieved in coach Ben Breeden's first year at the helm.

Talk about setting the bar high. The Mountaineers were fun to watch, with the high flying David Falk, who dunked several times in the tournament to bring the crowd to its feet.

Madison County's seniors finished their last two seasons with a 55-1 record, and two trips to the final four.

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The Best Finish:
There was little question that the I.C Norcom and Petersburg game was going to be exciting, but few could have predicted how it would end. Petersburg was up by 1 with less than 7 seconds left when Norcom's Issac White threw the ball to Decarlos Anderson up the court.

Anderson threw up a runner that banked off the backboard and into the hands of Shelton Haskins, who proceeded to put in the game winner.

It was a devastating blow to Petersburg, who was perfect all season long up to that last second defeat. Dorian Finney-Smith was once again incredible, but Jeremy Canty's big night was a huge difference in Norcom's win.

Canty hit 5 three pointers, and refused to let his team lose. He truly showed up big in the biggest game he has ever played in.

It was also nice to see Norcom win for another reason. They played the game with class, and because of that, I became a fan of the Greyhounds. Their community support was awesome as well, and they became the first Portsmouth team to win a state championship at the Group AAA level.

Tying A Bow On The Week:
For us here at Gameday, it was a long week with each day starting at 10am, and ending about midnight. The folks at the Siegel Center were great to work with, and the VHSL in my opinion did a first class job of running this tournament.

We sincerely appreciate all of the fans that allowed Gameday to be a part of their Championship Week online. We hope that you enjoyed our coverage, and we are looking forward to bringing you next year's tournament in its entirety.

Before I go, here are my All Tournament Awards for the week. I hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for the Tournament MVP announcements on Thursday right here online.

Best Sharp Shooter:
Clay Lacy - Cave Spring (38 points in two games)

Best Dunker:
DuVaughn Maxwell - Petersburg (6 Dunks in two games; Unreal)

Best Mascot:
The Fighting Gobbler (Broadway High School)

Best Defensive Player:
Gregory Graves - Potomac Falls (18 blocks in two games)

Most Inspirational Performance:

Courtni Green - Millbrook (Scored 11 points after badly injuring her ankle and helped the Pioneers to their first championship in school history by the margin of 11 points. Talk about heart!)

Funnies Moment:
In the Madison County vs Altavista championship game, Tavonne Payne of Altavista jumped up on the press row table we sat behind, then tip-toed down the edge to avoid smashing our equipment. In the process, he scared our fellow broadcaster Woody Woodruff so badly that Woody fell backward out of his chair on his back. Woody was dinged up a bit, but it was a good laugh afterward.

Best Media Room Snack:
Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies were always present, and man they were really good.

Best Invention:
On-Star saved us from getting lost on the way to the Siegel Center, and back to the hotel at the end of each day. Without it, I would probably be in North Carolina by now.

Best Band:
The Petersburg Band rocked the house in Friday's championship game, and that made for an incredible atmosphere.