Magna Vista girls basketball

Magna Vista girls basketball coach Kyana Smith (front) and the Warriors bench help the team late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's home win over Martinsville.

Magna Vista’s girls basketball team started the season with two narrow victories of and five points.

After falling in Game 3, in the time since the Warriors have gone 13-0, winning by an average of 17.8 points per game. The Warriors have four wins of at least 28 points in that span, and just four wins of fewer than 10 points.

Saturday’s 43-37 win over Martinsville was one of those few close victories for Magna Vista this year. And while the Warriors have shown they can absolutely win games, this weekend proved to the team they can win any type of game.

The Warriors (15-1, 9-0 PD)won Saturday’s home contest against Martinsville despite trailing by three in the final minute and playing without senior Mackenzie Hairston, the team’s top defender who fouled out of the game late in the fourth quarter.

Magna Vista sophomore TaNashia Hairston hit a 3-pointer to tie the game, then took the lead back with 20 seconds remaining on a drive to the basket that ended with a made layup and free throw. The Warriors sealed the victory at the buzzer on an offensive rebound and putback by sophomore SaNai Hairston-Wlliams.

“I think today, there were some tears in the game, there was some frustration that was visible but I think they took heed to that and they responded pretty well,” Warriors head coach Kyana Smith said. “So I think that tells me a lot that in late game, close game situations, even though we may appear to be young on both ends of the spectrum… if we need to we’re able to step up in those situations so I think that’s something that made me proud.”

The Warriors’ split roster includes four seniors, no juniors, three sophomores, and a freshman. While they appear to be young, the underclassmen are mostly all battle-tested already. All of the upperclassmen and all three sophomores were a part of last year’s team that reached the state tournament.

Smith said, though, the Warriors as a whole don’t have much experience with battling adversity, and knowing how to battle through tough games will be key in the postseason.

“I wrote two words on the board when the game was over, and the first one was adversity,” Smith said. “And I told them we haven’t had a ton of close games so we hadn’t really been met with a ton of adversity. But I said, ‘Ladies, you’ve got to realize moving forward everybody we play has something to lose, so everybody is going to play that much harder. How will we respond to the adversity we meet?’ Whether it’s a key player fouling out, whether it’s the officials not officiating in a way that allows us to play the way we want to, whether it’s the shots not falling or different things like that, how will we respond?”

“It helps us throughout,” TaNashia Hairston said. “We don’t have a lot of close games so when we do have close games we have to keep focused and have to know what we have to do in order to win and not let them feel like they can beat us.”

Smith said not knowing how her team will respond to adversity was something that kind of worried her, knowing her team will likely be playing in more close game situations very soon.

The Warriors next two games, Smith said, are examples of good teams who can give her squad trouble. Magna Vista will take on Patrick County on Tuesday, and Franklin County on Wednesday, both at home. The Warriors defeated the Cougars 50-43 in Stuart on January 10, and squeaked by the Eagles, 57-55, the first game of the season.

“Both of those teams, they play extremely hard, they have some size, and they’ve been winning as well,” Smith said. “So like I said, we’re getting down to crunch time. Our regional seeding is literally going to come down to a tenth of a point, so we’ve got to win the games that we need to, and guess what, that’s all the ones we have left. We’ve got to win them all.”

GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK

- Patrick County and Magna Vista girls basketball highlights the slate of high school games this season. The two teams have met up in the Piedmont District championship game the last two seasons, with the Cougars coming out on top in 2019.

The Cougars have been without starting center Sierra Hubbard, who averages more than 20 points and double-digit rebounds per game this season, for four games with an injury. The team has still gone 4-0 in that span, and their current winning streak is five games. The Cougars are 11-7, 5-3 in the PD, this season.

Tuesday’s game will tip off at 7 p.m. in Ridgeway.

- Carlisle’s girls basketball team this season returned just two players off of last year’s roster that reached the VISAA DIII state semifinals.

After the pretty much all new team struggled early, going 0-4 from the gun, the Chiefs have since gone 6-2, with a current three game winning streak.

Sophomore returner Amara Harrell is averaging 20.6 points, and 5.7 steals per game this season. Senior Daisy Harris is averaging 13.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.4 steals per game. Transfer sophomore Tay Giles had reached double-digit scoring in three of the Chiefs' last five games.

Carlisle will play two games at home this week. They’ll take on Faith Christian - a team that barely defeated the Chiefs 53-52 on January 16 – on Monday at 6:15 p.m., and return on Tuesday to take on Roanoke Catholic at 6:30 p.m.

- Magna Vista boys will travel to Patrick County on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game. The Warriors (5-12, 3-6 PD) are looking to snap a current 4-game losing streak, while the Cougars (0-18, 0-8) will be looking for a first win this season.

- Martinsville’s boys, currently on a 9-game winning streak, will travel to rival G.W.-Danville on Friday for a 7 p.m. game. The Eagles are the defending VHSL Class 4 state champions, and have won six straight games. Their last loss was to the Bulldogs on January 14.

Martinsville (13-4, 8-2), G.W. (12-6, 6-2), and Halifax (15-3, 7-2) are the top three teams in the Piedmont District, each with two district losses.

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