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Sweet victories in Timesland. Four teams, including two from Salem, earn the title state champ.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Viewers back home watching the Salem High School girls play in the Virginia High School League championship game Saturday night at Virginia Commonwealth University did a double take when reading the score line: Salem-Salem against Courtland.
The double billing for Salem is a way to distinguish our Salem High from the one over in Virginia Beach, but Salem-Salem might have been a harbinger of how the night would end.
The Salem girls led Courtland throughout, and though there was a hold-your-breath moment late in the fourth quarter, the Spartans were triumphant. A feat duplicated two hours later by their male classmates, allowing Salem to become the first school since 2007 to have both its boys and girls basketball teams win a state championship in the same season.
As Roanoke Times sportswriter Robert Anderson noted in a Monday story, “Saturday was the greatest single day of basketball in Timesland history.”
Earlier in the day, the Radford High School boys team took the title game in the Group A Division 2 championship game. And Floyd County High School won that division’s girls championship.
Four state champs, two from one school. It doesn’t get much sweeter.
When the season started, the Spartan boys did not appear destined for a trip to the winner’s circle. They had yet to register a division win and had lost eight of their first dozen games. That’s when Coach Kevin Garst changed up practice by requiring them to drive a heavier round ball down the lane. He took the team bowling.
Anderson’s story suggests that was the pivot point in the Spartans’ season. From there, the boys were unstoppable, something that Grafton learned Saturday night when it started strong, putting the first 9 points on the board.
The Spartans rose to the challenge and made it a Salem-Salem night.
Scoring the double championship is one for the record books and certainly adds more luster to the already sparkling Salem sports lore.
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