In the end, it proved to be one of the best seasons in the history of the Edison High boys’ basketball program. The Eagles, part of the less-heralded National District, were not one of the teams most Northern Region hoops followers were taking seriously at the start of the 16-team regional playoffs.
Perhaps coaches and players within the National District saw it coming, but others throughout the region did not necessarily consider Edison to be one of the teams which would make a strong run at the region title. But that is exactly what happened.
Edison’s improbable breakthrough season came to an end last Friday night at the Siegel Center in Richmond where the Eagles, under head coach Terry Henderson, lost their Virginia State AAA quarterfinals round playoff game to Petersburg High (Central Region), 68-61. With the loss, Edison concluded the season with a 19-10 record.
Edison, at the recent region tournament, had reached the championship game before losing to Westfield, 62-49, on Feb. 27 at Robinson Secondary. Even so, the Eagles, by having made it to the region title game, qualified for the eight-team state tournament field. The fact that Edison lost its final two games of the season – to Westfield and then to Petersburg – hardly diminishes what the team accomplished over the course of the winter season.
IN THE REGION FINALS, Westfield was going up against a red-hot Edison squad which had struggled early in the season with records of 1-3 and 4-5 before turning it on and ultimately capturing its district tournament title with a 63-54 finals win over Washington-Lee on Feb. 16. The Eagles had reached the district tournament finals with wins over Falls Church, 72-47, and Yorktown, 64-52.
In the district title game win over the Generals, Edison’s Tyrone Mackall scored 24 points and teammate Matt Murphy contributed 14 in a game in which W-L nearly came back from a 43-23 deficit after three quarters. Despite being outscored by 11 points in the final quarter, the Eagles held on to capture the district crown, giving them plenty of momentum going into the following week’s region tournament.
At regionals, the high flying Eagles defeated Herndon, Langley, and Fairfax, the latter win over the Rebels coming in overtime, to reach the meeting with Westfield. Edison, going into the championship, was carrying an eight-game win streak.
But while the underdog Edison team had proven its merit by reaching the region championship, the Eagles were not able to defeat a defensive-minded Westfield squad known for its strength both inside and outside of the paint.
In the championship game, Edison trailed Westfield, 22-21, at the intermission. But the Bulldogs, leading 24-23 early in the third quarter, then broke the game open with a game-defining 18-4 stretch over the final six-and-a-half minutes of the quarter.
Westfield senior forward Quentin Basil was the Bulldogs’ key player in the quarter. After Edison got within 30-25 on a steal and breakaway layup by Mackall, Basil began a 10-0 Westfield spurt by nailing consecutive three-point shots from the left corner.
“Quentin hit some big shots,” said Westfield center Zach Elcano, of the back-to-back treys which gave Westfield momentum it never lost.
Edison trailed 42-27 going into the final quarter and was never seriously in the game after that. The Eagles did get as close as 50-43 on a free throw by Marcus Brunsey with 2:18 left to play. But Westfield baskets by senior guard Mark Gibson and Basil, the latter score by Basil - a two-handed dunk shot off a drive from the left side – making the score 54-43 and bringing the loudest roar of the night from the Westfield faithful on hand. The game was well in hand at that point.
EDISON HAD TWO players named to All-Northern Region Tournament Team – big man Murphy and guard/forward Mackall, who led Edison with 17 points in the championship. Edison, as a team, earned the region tournament Sportsmanship Award.
Westfield’s Elcano, the 6-foot-11 inch pivot player, scored 17 points in the title game and earned tournament MVP honors. Basil (16 points, 7 rebounds) and Gibson (10 points) also made the seven-member All-Tournament Team.
In Edison’s state playoff game against Petersburg on Friday, three Edison players – Mackall (19 points, 11 rebounds), Chief Amoah (16 points), and Murphy (10 points, 8 rebounds) – scored in double figures. Brunsey added eight points for the Eagles, who led 19-16 after one quarter, trailed 34-29 at halftime, and were behind 50-42 after three quarters.