Fresh off a forgettable performance by the Edison girls’ basketball team, Eagles senior and Region 6C Player of the Year Bri Johns stood in a hallway at Fairfax High School and discussed the team’s upcoming state tournament matchup against rival Marshall.
“It just comes down to who wants it more,” Johns said. “If we come to play Edison basketball, and not whatever we just played [we’ll have a chance].”
For the Eagles on Saturday night, the result of “whatever we just played” was a 17-point loss and a second championship loss in a span of nine days.
Edison trimmed its deficit to single digits in the fourth quarter of the Region 6C tournament championship game, but West Springfield closed the contest on a 10-2 run and captured the region crown with a 50-33 victory.
Edison had won a region title in six of the previous seven seasons, including last year. On Saturday, however, the Eagles could never get going offensively against the West Springfield zone and trailed 22-5 midway through the second quarter.
Edison got as close as six following a Charlotte Jewell 3-pointer in the third quarter, and trailed 37-29 after an Aurea Gingras free throw with 5:38 left in the fourth, but the Spartans proved to be too much.
“We had a hard time getting in a flow [or] a rhythm offensively,” Edison head coach Dianne Lewis said. “We’ve seen a matchup zone before, we play a matchup zone, so I’m not sure why. Not going to make excuses – we had a horrible shooting night; we had a horrible defensive night and they deserved to win.”
The loss came eight days after the Eagles fell to Marshall in the National District championship game, 56-53. Edison entered that contest having won a district title in five of the previous six seasons, including the 2018-19 campaign.
Edison defeated Marshall twice during the regular season – 47-40 on Jan. 17, and 61-41 on Feb. 11 – before falling short against the Statesmen in the district tournament final. A fourth meeting with Marshall will now take place in the Class 6 state quarterfinals at 6 p.m. on Friday at Westfield High School.
Edison needs a win to keep its season alive and extend its streak of consecutive state final four appearances, which is currently at six.
“It’s going to really be up to them,” Lewis said about the Eagles bouncing back from their region championship loss to West Springfield. “We have only been encouraging. We have told them over and over that we believe in them. Right now, it’s going to have to be them digging into their hearts and figuring out if they want to go further or they want to end their season.”
Against West Springfield, Johns knocked down a 3-pointer in the opening minute to give Edison a 3-0 advantage, but not much else went right for the Eagles. Edison went scoreless for the next six-plus minutes before a Johns bucket in the paint cut the Spartans’ lead to 15-5.
It would be more than five minutes before Edison would score again. At that point, a Jewell layup cut West Springfield’s advantage to 22-7 and the Eagles were fighting an uphill battle.
Edison continued to fight, however, clawing its way back in the second half. A Jewell 3-pointer shrank the Eagles’ deficit to 29-23 with less than three minutes remaining in the third, but West Springfield scored the final six points of the quarter and led by as many as eight for the remainder of the contest.
Why weren’t the Eagles able to complete their comeback?
“It was all defense, to me,” Jewell said. “We had a couple spurts of offensive runs, but they would turn around and get a wide-open layup. Those are … just killers. … We just couldn’t support our offensive runs with stops on the defense end.”
Jewell led Edison with 12 points. Johns finished with nine points and Gingras added eight.
Johns and Jewell were named to the Region 6C all-tournament team.
West Springfield guard Lexi White led all scorers with 20 points on her way to tournament MVP honors. Hannah Judkiewicz scored 16 points off the bench for the Spartans, including an and-1 with 0.1 seconds left in the third, giving West Springfield a 35-23 lead.
Judkiewicz was also named to the all-tournament team.
“One of our assistant coaches said, as soon as we lost, we need to remember this feeling,” Jewell said, “because I don’t plan on feeling it again.”
The VHSL basketball postseason is structured in a way that the Spartans and Eagles had already punched their tickets to the state tournament by reaching the region final. With that in mind, Johns and Jewell each said not facing elimination might have played a role in Edison struggling.
“We didn’t play this game,” Johns said, “like if we lost, we were going to go home.”
Said Jewell: “Maybe subconsciously, not obviously … but in the back of everyone’s head, they’re like, we’re still playing after this. But it shouldn’t matter.”
With the state tournament having arrived, each game is now a must-win for the Eagles.
“Again, it’s going to depend on which of my teams shows up,” Lewis said when asked about the upcoming matchup against Marshall. “I do believe we have a very good chance if we’re focused and locked in.”
Region 6C All-Tournament Team
Lexi White, West Springfield (MVP)
Hannah Judkiewicz, West Springfield
Bri Johns, Edison
Charlotte Jewell, Edison
Danea Mackey, West Potomac
Amor Harris, T.C. Williams
Jon Roetman is a freelance writer who started covering high school sports in Northern Virginia in 2009. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.