Hone In: William Monroe girls beat Covenant

Photo by Bart Isley

William Monroe girls basketball had to lock down defensively. With a team that’s capable of heating it up on offense like Covenant, the Dragons had to make stops and get rebounds or they were bound to find themselves in some trouble. 


Ella Weaver and Kayla Britton and a gritty team defensive effort made sure that trouble never surfaced. Weaver posted 18 rebounds to go with an explosive 24 points while helping limit Covenant — particularly in the early going — on the offensive end. Britton had 12 boards to go with her 14 points. 


“The challenge of taking their best player out of the game, that’s typically the call we put on Ella or McKinley (Carpenter) each night defensively,” said Monroe coach Carrie Woods. “To hone in on who their best offensive threat is and try to change it and I think they did a good job of forcing Covenant to find points from elsehwere.”


William Monroe advances to the Holiday Hoops title game where they’ll face Western Albemarle at 2:30 p.m. at Albemarle High while Covenant heads to the third place game to take on Charlottesville. 


The Dragons led 29-18 by halftime, thanks in part to Weaver’s length creating all kinds of problems for Covenant’s offensive weapons including Delaney Poindexter. A day after scoring 28 points against Albemarle, Poindexter didn’t get on track until late, scoring nine of her 14 points in the second half. 


Britton has taken a big step forward as well which is helping the Dragons’ cause in a big way with her versatility as an inside and outside presence.


“Kayla has been working hard on all aspects of the game,” Woods said. “She’s built her confidence and her teammates trust her so they’ll get her the ball.”


The Dragons, meanwhile, got solid outings from Avery Shifflett who had six points and six boards as well as Mckinley Carpenter who dished out six assists to go with four points. Weaver also had four assists and a pair of steals, but the Dragons didn’t get it done defensively by forcing turnovers, they got it done by staying in front of the Eagles and rebounding extremely well. 


Even when Covenant started to challenge the Dragons down the stretch, Monroe provided answer after answer, usually in the form of Weaver. 


“Everyone realizes that they have a role and obviously (Weaver) is a fantastic player but she’s a phenomenal leader and an even better teammate,” Woods said. “She wants to get her teammates involved.”


The Eagles didn’t make it easy either.


“We tried a box-and-one and we’ve never had to play a box-and-one before so this is a great experience for us and Makyala locked her down as much as she could,” said Covenant coach Caroline Wilke. “But she’s really disciplined and found a way to work around that.”


For Covenant, a team that’ll likely contend for a VISAA D2 state title this year after reaching the title game a year ago before finishing as runner-up, this was a critical learning experience and it’s already been a solid week after the Eagles knocked off Albemarle Tuesday. 


“Games like these prepare us for conference games and games at states so I’m really glad we got this opportunity to play a team of this caliber,” Wilke said.


Getting a chance to play a guard of Rayquel Allen’s caliber in the third place game should be another chance for growth for the Eagles. 


For William Monroe, the Dragons will get another chance to test themselves against local talent as they square off with the Warriors, a big opportunity for a squad that plays in the Northwestern District that stretches up to Falls Church in Northern Virginia. 


“That’s why I love this tournament because I get to actually play local competition and I know a lot of the girls and that’s fun,” Weaver said.