HAMPTON — Those two snow days were annoying, no question about it. Bethel's state semifinal game was less than a week off, and girls basketball coach Roy Johnson wanted his team in the gym.
There was nothing he could do about it then, and he can't make up for it now. All he can do is stress the positive aspect.
"I was actually happy for that time off because it gave them a chance to step away from basketball for a little while," Johnson said. "After (last) Friday's loss (to Cosby), everybody was frustrated. I gave them Saturday off hoping to come in on Monday.
"The snow makes you go think about family and what's important. They came in Wednesday very focused. They know what's at stake now."
What's at stake, as we finally reach the one-and-done round, is Group 6A's version of the Final Four. The Bruins (20-6) will go against Stonewall Jackson (21-6) of Manassas on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. in Fairfax.
The winner advances to next week's final against Cosby at the Siegel Center.
The Raiders advanced by beating West Springfield 64-54 last Saturday night at Robinson. Johnson made the three-hour drive and was impressed by Nicole Floyd, a 6-foot-2 post player who had 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Floyd, who signed with Wake Forest last fall, is the main threat, but not the only one. Guard Genesis Parker is averaging 14.7 points in 16 games since transferring from Bishop O'Connell. And Sydney Jordan, a 6-foot sophomore wing, already has several offers (Louisville among them).
While this is Bethel's first trip to the state tournament, Stonewall Jackson has made it five times in the last six years. A year ago, the Raiders lost to Princess Anne 48-38 in the old Group AAA semifinals.
"That loss motivated us to never taste defeat again," Stonewall Jackson coach Diana Martinez said. "Hopefully our kids will use that experience."
Sometimes, losses can produce a turnaround. On Jan. 18, the Raiders were blown out 91-45 by Highland Springs. That dropped them to 8-6. Stonewall has won 13 in a row since.
"That was our worst loss in several years," Martinez said. "Our kids really hate to lose, especially in that manner."
As for Bethel, that loss to Cosby last week means a road trip. Instead of playing 20 miles away at the Constant Center, where they would have gone as 6A champions, the Bruins will be making a 165-mile drive to Fairfax.
That's the obvious drawback. But a positive, as it turns out, was the VHSL's postseason schedule.
As the South runner-up, Bethel ended up with seven days between its loss to Cosby and Saturday's state semifinal. But as the South champion, Cosby had to play Thursday against West Springfield (a 37-26 Titans win).
And with Monday and Tuesday being snow days, Cosby had only one day to prepare.
"We're very fortunate we're playing on Saturday," Johnson said. "Losing those two days doesn't hurt you. You still have three days, three good opportunities, to get ready for your opponent. Maybe a blessing in disguise, but we'll see."
Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649.
BETHEL (20-6) VS. STONEWALL JACKSON (21-6)
WHAT: Group 6A state semifinal.
WHEN: 5:15 p.m.
WHERE: Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax.
AT STAKE: Winner will play Cosby in the state final Friday at the Siegel Center.
LEADING SCORERS: Bethel — C Britani Bryson (11.8 ppg, 11.5 rpg), G Keli Foster (10.0 ppg), G Nyra Williams (9.1 ppg). Stonewall Jackson — F Nicole Floyd (23.6 ppg), G Genesis Parker (14.7 ppg), G-F Sydney Jordan (10.0 ppg).
NOTEWORTHY: While Bethel had never made it this far, Stonewall Jackson is making a return trip. The Raiders lost 48-38 to Princess Anne in a Group AAA semifinal last season. Like Cosby, the Bruins' 6A South final opponent last week, Stonewall has superior size with the 6-foot-2 Floyd, who averages 10 rebounds a game, and Jordan. But the Raiders play a four-guard, up-tempo lineup with Floyd in the middle. Trying to get a handle on Floyd will be Bryson, a first-team All-6A South pick who has been the Bruins' MVP this season. She had 11 of her team's 23 rebounds last week. Foster was 3-of-5 from the 3-point arc in last week's loss and is averaging 13.9 ppg in her last seven games.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun