As the Northern Region turned it’s eyes on the Patriot Center at George Mason University over the weekend for the boys and girls basketball tournament semifinals, the Concorde District was uncharacteristically absent. Each of the four district were represented in the eight teams left – except for the Concorde. The Liberty District had four representatives, the Patriot three and the National had one. In fact, only one Concorde District team, the Robinson girls, made it past the first round.
The Concorde boys, which featured district champ Westfield and runner-up Chantilly, ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, by the Northern Virginia Basketball Coaches Association heading into the district tournaments, were shut out of the second round.
“You run across good teams at a good time and you are in trouble,” said Westfield head coach Doug Ewell, whose Bulldogs fell to Lake Braddock in overtime, 43-38. “The teams that Chantilly and Westfield faced were two quality basketball teams.”
Added Chantilly head coach Jim Smith: “We played the Patriot and they had six really good teams. It was more about the Patriot being very good top to bottom. Our league wasn’t as strong top to bottom.”
Both Westfield and Chantilly cruised through the district, with the Bulldogs only dropping one game, to Chantilly, during their district schedule. Six of those district games were won by 30 points or more.
“It is hard to prepare for late-game situations if you don’t get them in your games. It is hard to emulate what is going to happen in practice,” said Ewell. “We didn’t play very many close basketball games in January and February.”
The Chargers dropped three district games, two to Westfield and one to Robinson. Five of their victories were by 20 points or more.
Westfield’s loss came in overtime, while Chantilly was edged by Annandale by four points.
“Our game against Annandale could have easily gone the other way and Westfield’s game could have gone the other way and then you would have a 2-to-2 split and nobody would be saying anything,” said Smith.
Smith and the Chargers advanced to the region final four last year.
“Last year, we caught some breaks in terms of upsets in the district tournaments. That gave us a favorable bracket and we caught some breaks in the games themselves,” he said. “Basketball can be kind of fickle. We ended up playing a very good team in the first round and we didn’t get any breaks.”
The Concorde girls, didn’t fair much better. Top seeds Oakton and Herndon each fell in the first round to Patriot teams. District champion Oakton was beaten by Annadale, 47-41. The No. 3 seeded Centreville Wildcats fell to West Springfield, 54-46.
“There is a lot of parity out there,” said Centreville head coach Wally Horton, who led the Wildcats to their best record in 15 years. “It is hard to know. I don’t think anybody has to apologize for where they were. Whoever got to the finals got there because they played in the system the way it was supposed to be and they won the games that they had to win and that is the bottom line.”
The only Concorde team to escape the first round was the Robinson girls, who upset T.C. Williams, 58-45. The Rams were beaten in the quarterfinals by Yorktown, 59-52.
“Now you start thinking about next year. You take a few days off and then you start thinking about what is coming down the road,” said Horton.