Split verdict for King’s Fork as girls reach state championship, boys eliminated. Lakeland girls also eliminated in semis

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, March 8, 2022

A trio of Suffolk basketball teams played Monday for a berth in the state championship game. 

Just one will do so. 

Led by three players scoring in double-figures, the King’s Fork girls (22-3) held off Manor for the third time this season, 60-53, and will play Millbrook (25-2) at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in Richmond for the Class 4 state championship. Millbrook defeated Pulaski County 68-59 in overtime. 

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The Bulldogs beat the Mustangs by 21 points in their two prior matchups, including the 82-61 win Feb. 25 in the Region 4A championship game. But playing with a state finals berth on the line, Manor (22-8) played more physical and fed off the energy of a largely partisan crowd despite playing at King’s Fork. 

Arlisha Boston and Cyriah Griffin led King’s Fork’s girls with 15 points each, Yasmine Brown added 12 and Niyah Gaston had 9, all on 3-pointers, with two key ones coming in a fourth-quarter stretch as Manor had cut the Bulldogs’ lead to four. 

Manor had closed the Bulldogs’ lead to 43-39 with under seven minutes to play as Gaston hit her first 3-pointer. 

About a minute later, Gaston hit another 3-pointer to extend the King’s Fork lead to 10 points, and though Manor got within five points with 15 seconds left, Boston hit a pair of free throws to finish off the game and begin the celebration. 

The other two Suffolk teams in action – King’s Fork’s boys and Lakeland’s girls – were aiming to reach the state championship game for their second consecutive time (no city public high school teams played last season due to COVID-19) but were unable to get back. Both reached the final game in 2020 before the season was halted as the pandemic was in its infancy, and none of the city’s three public high schools played last season as the virus continued to rage. 

King’s Fork boys, playing on the road at Varina, lost 84-68 in the Class 4 semifinal. It was the first loss of the season for the Bulldogs, who finished the season 24-1. 

Lakeland’s girls (15-6), playing for a berth in the Class 3 girls final, fell behind by 20 points after the first quarter and lost at Meridian 65-33. The Cavaliers trailed 29-10 at the half. 

A King’s Fork win Thursday would mean the school’s first-ever girls basketball championship. Lakeland’s girls won a region title in 2020, and then after not playing last season, won another region title on their way to the Class 3 state semifinals. The Bulldog girls reached the state championship game in 2017 before falling to Monacan.