As we mentioned Wednesday in our #3 Moment of 2016-17, the 4A State Girls Basketball Championship was supposed to be a formality.
Driving towards what everyone thought would be an inevitable third straight state title, Monacan arrived at the Siegel Center already with a win over King's Fork in hand in regional play, 74-65. But most everyone forgot one important thing: with losing comes the ability to make adjustments in case you get that second chance. And that can be a dangerous thing.
So, when the scoreboard read King's Fork 43, Monacan 32 after the third quarter, Chief fans were in shock, and, from the actual play on the floor, there was little proof that a major comeback was imminent. But, a closer look beyond that gave Monacan fans all the hope they needed, and that was looking to the bench during the timeout and remembering, that's right, she's on our team.
Megan Walker is not the sole reason why Monacan has been so successful the past three seasons. Yes, as the #1 recruit in her class nationwide, she has grabbed the lion's share of attention. But it never fazed or changed her, as she always worked within the team framework. Decades from now, we'll look back at the roster that included Jaiden Morris, Jasmine Norman, Abby Oguich, Shalonda Wilkins, and Alex Parson, whose older sister Micaela helped start the Monacan drive to the top before being shocked, knocked early out of the 2014 playoffs.
Since then, the Chiefs had won two state titles, but a third was growing out of reach. Walker and her teammates did not lose hope, and, as a top player will do under such circumstances, Megan raised her game. Parson began the fourth with a three to cut the deficit to single digits. Back and forth the teams went, King's Fork showing no interest in letting the upset slip away.
Then came the final twenty seconds, when the Chiefs fed Walker in the paint, and she did what she does best, find the basket. Monacan finally took the lead at 60-59, but needed a defensive stop, and a little luck with the clock, to make the lead hold.
Norman did the defensive work, denying a would-be game winner. A battle for the loose ball knocked it out of bounds, and the horn sounded. Monacan began to celebrate, but the officials said otherwise. There were still three tenths of a second on the clock, enough time to try to tip an inbounds pass towards the basket for a miracle finish.
King's Fork inbounded the ball, and it went into the basket, and for a second, they thought the slipper fit. But officials waved off the basket, since the ball was caught ever so briefly before launched towards the hoop, and, by rule, with so little time left, there's no time to do that. The horn beat the ball, and Monacan survived, a script none of us saw coming earlier in the evening.
Monacan became the second Chesterfield County girls basketball team this decade to win three straight state titles, joining Cosby (2014-16), Walker and her senior teammates leaving a mark in Smoketree that will never be forgotten, and possibly never duplicated.
CLICK HERE to read our #3 Moment of The Year with video of Walker's game-winner.