Briarwood girls win showdown with Chelsea

Between Briarwood and Chelsea, the Class 5A, Area 8 girls’ basketball championship game at Briarwood High School turned into a showdown between local rivals.

In the end, Briarwood stood victorious, 62-54. However, the game was much closer than the last time the two teams met on Jan. 20, when Briarwood ripped Chelsea, 62-41.

In the championship game, Chelsea actually had the lead for much of the first half until midway through the second period when Briarwood’s Julia Hoke pulled up for a 3-pointer and a 16-15 lead.

Although Chelsea kept it close the rest of the game, Briarwood never lost the lead again after Hoke’s pivotal 3-pointer.

Hoke ended up with three 3-pointers, all made at crucial times. At the end of the third quarter, Chelsea was gaining on Briarwood until Hoke made two 3-pointers in a row to effectively put the game out of reach for the Hornets.

Becca Stephens led Briarwood with 19 points, while Chelsea’s Rebecca Simpson led all players with 23 points.

Briarwood also completely out-rebounded Chelsea, 26 to 16. Stephens came close to a double-double with her 19 points and nine rebounds.

Briarwood coach Jim Brown said the team’s senior leadership helped them come out of a close game with a win.

“We have a great leadership on our team. Three seniors really stepped up. They all played well and they all played vital parts,” he said. “We have things we need to work on, but we made the plays we needed to make when we needed to make them. If we continue to do that, we have a chance (in regional play).”

Simpson said although Chelsea lost, the loss showed them they have the talent to stay in any game. They’ll have to keep that mindset as they go into regional play, she said.

“We’re taking away that we can hang with the big schools,” she said. “We have the talent, we have the skill.”