Cadence Wilmoth achieved a personal milestone and assured her team of a spot in the state tournament. Could she have scripted Friday night’s developments any better?
“Not really,” she said.
The Patrick Henry High School senior put together a postseason performance to remember – scoring 33 points and blocking seven shots – as the Rebels cruised to a 69-51 victory over James River in the semifinals of the Region C, Division 2 girls basketball tournament at Radford High School.
PH (22-4) secured a state tourney berth for the second straight season and will play Glenvar (21-4) tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the regional championship game. Glenvar advanced to the finals with a stunning 70-60 semifinal victory over Floyd County.
Wilmoth surpassed the 2,000-point mark for her career with 5:50 remaining in the second quarter when she came up with a rebound on a missed shot by teammate Sam McCauley and scored on a putback.
The 6-foot-1 Wilmoth entered the game just seven points shy of the mark.
“I really wanted to get it out of the way,” Wilmoth said. “But the main thing that we were focused on was just winning the game.”
It turned out that Wilmoth’s topping of 2K also happened to be the game’s most pivotal play as her bucket gave the Rebels the lead for good at 17-16. It was part of a sequence in which Wilmoth scored eight straight points.
“They didn’t make an adjustment until after she had scored about six or eight [straight points] and we got a little separation and I think that really loosened us up,” said Patrick Henry coach Tommy Thomas.
The Rebels led by seven points at halftime and then pulled away in the third quarter. James River coach Dan Bowser’s team became the latest opponent to fail in attempting to contain PH’s star player.
“We were trying to neutralize the Wilmoth girl inside,” Bowser said. “We were dedicating two people to her and just couldn’t stop her.”
It marked the 30th straight game in which Wilmoth’s point total reached double figures. How dominant of a scorer has she been over the past two seasons?
“Well, she just scored her 1,000th point last season,” Thomas said.
Besides Wilmoth, Patrick Henry point guard Kasey Uecker also made it a long night for the Knights. The junior continually beat her defender off the dribble to get easy drives to the hoop en route to a 22-point performance.
“She’s picking up her confidence every game,” Thomas said. “She can score when she wants to.”
Jaymee Copenhaver added 10 points and seven rebounds for PH, while Ashley King led James River (21-5) with 20 points.
After losing to Chilhowie in the finals of the Hogoheegee District tournament last week, PH has won its two regional tournament games by 21 and 18 points.
“The only thing that was said in the locker room after the Chilhowie loss in the district tournament – I talked to them for a few minutes and then Cadence just stood up and said ‘Guys this should open our eyes, let’s focus,’ and they’ve been focused ever since,” Thomas said.
Wilmoth said the Rebels have plenty of the intangibles.
“We play with heart and we play together and we give 110 percent,” Wilmoth said.
It also doesn’t hurt the Rebels have the latest member of the VHSL’s 2,000-career-point club in their starting lineup.
“She deserves it,” Uecker said. “She’s a hard-worker. She’s earned every single point she’s gotten.”