The Highland Springs Springers simply could not stop Gadiva Hubbard.
The junior guard went 6 for 9 from beyond the three-point arc in the second half to help Princess Anne erase a five-point Highland Springs lead and win the 5A Girls Basketball State Championship 57-52.
Hubbard's 18 points from long distance helped Princess Anne (27-1) outscore Highland Springs 35-25 after intermission. The biggest stretch of the contest to doom the Springers (24-3) came as the 3rd quarter ended and the 4th got underway.
The Springers were behind 38-37 with :25 to go in the 3rd with the ball. Bri Justice, who finished in great pain and with 13 points, drove for a shot rather than wait for the last shot of the quarter. Her miss led Princess Anne on the break, finding Justyce Swango for her only field goal on the afternoon, a three-pointer at the buzzer to extend the Cavaliers' lead to 41-37.
In the first minute of the final quarter, Justice, while being double teamed at midcourt, collapsed in pain, holding her right knee/leg injured in the previous meeting between these two teams in the 5A South Region Finals nine days ago. For a time, it looked like her game was over.
She did check back in with 3:58 to go, but by then, the damage had been done by Hubbard, and Justice was no longer a factor. Hubbard continued to seal the deal with a trey right after the timeout at 3:58 left that allowed Bri back into the game, giving Springer Nation an emotional boost.
After Hubbard's 35, Janayla White had 13 points, 10 of which came in the first half. Mercedes Tapia added six.
For Highland Springs, it was freshman Ciera Crudup who led with 14 points, followed by Justice with 13 in her final game for the Springers. Najai Pollard added 10 points, 8 of which came in the second half.
The Springers now say goodbye to seven seniors, including Justice, E'Shay Winfield, Tia Byrd, and Temea Coker. Pollard, Crudup, Cam Gaitling, and Jennifer Coleman is the core returning as Highland Springs will again regroup, and come back for another opportunity at that elusive first State Championship.
Congratulations to Highland Springs on their successful season overall, and a salute to Justice for playing through pain to a degree the past week that none of us will probably ever realize.