As the Woodson girls basketball team walked off the court after falling to Lee, 66-40, in the Northern Region tournament finals, their disappointment was mixed with accomplishment. The Cavaliers, the No. 3 seed out of the Liberty District, were a long shot to make it to the Patriot Center at George Mason University for the final four, much less the tournament finals. An upset win over Mt. Vernon and a quality win over Annandale gave the Cavs their third final four appearance in five years. A 54-41 win over Yorktown propelled Woodson into the finals.
“This was huge – the fact that we made it this far. We might of lost tonight, but this week was the best week of basketball that we have played this season,” said senior center Sarah Schoof, who finished with a game-high 12 points.
Woodson head coach Pat Neri agreed.
“We played our best basketball this week. I didn’t think that too many people expected to see us in the finals. We played hard.”
The Cavaliers finished the season with a 12-5 record but fell in the second round of the district tournament to Langley, 58-42. After the loss to the Saxons, Woodson won their next three games by an average of 15.6 points to advance to the region finals.
Playing Lee, however, was a different story. The Lancers lost only two games during the regular season – both to T.C. Williams. Their loss to West Springfield in the district tournament semifinals, even though the Lancers beat the Spartans by double digits in their two previous meetings, gave Lee a No. 3 seed in the region tournament.
“I knew that we would have to play our absolute best to beat Lee. I thought that if we did that, we had a chance,” said Neri.
The Cavs were far from perfect, however, as the Lancer defense totaled 18 steals and held Woodson to 18 first-half points. The Cavaliers were down by 20 points at halftime.
“We talked about having to combat their quickness on defense. They don’t really have a slow kid out there that lets you relax. All five of them are in your face and they make you work really hard,” said Neri.
The Cavs were held to 10 points or less in the first three quarters.
Schoof, who scored 19 points in the Cavaliers win over Yorktown and averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and four blocks per game during the season, was held to 4 points in the first half.
“The biggest thing that we wanted to do was to make sure that we put a body on her and front her and make it tough on her to catch,” said Lee head coach Rudy Coffield on guarding Schoof.
The Cavaliers season will continue on Saturday, March 1 as they play Eastern Region champion Heritage High School at Churchland High School in Portsmouth. Heritage (25-2) beat undefeated Princess Anne on March 1 to win the region title.
“It is our consolation prize,” said Neri, of facing the Eastern Region winner.