Out of the 30 high schools in the Northern Region, Madison was the only school to send both its boys and girls basketball teams to Northern Region tournament semifinals at the Patriot Center at George Mason University last week. While both teams failed to advance to the tournament finals and into the AAA Virginia state tournament, advancing to the Patriot Center has long been the mark of a successful season in the Northern Region.
“It is something that we can be really proud of. We are really proud of the way that we have represented Madison High School and Vienna,” said Madison girls head coach Denise Weinig.
The Madison girls took a 26-game winning streak into their game against eventual region champ Lee on Thursday night. The Warhawks (26-2), the Liberty District top seed, dominated Washington-Lee and West Springfield to advance to the semifinals, but found a much stronger opponent in the Lancers, the No. 3 seed from the Patriot District.
“They have a lot of athleticism and quickness that we didn’t see in our district,” said Weinig. “They gave us the most defensive pressure that we have seen all season.”
The two teams had to earn every point in the first half, with the Warhawks taking a 25-23 lead into halftime after an 11-11 first quarter. The Lancers tied things up by the end of the third quarter – setting up a dramatic fourth.
With four minutes to go, the Warhawks had a 45-40 lead – then everything collapsed.
Lee senior J'Quita Babineaux and junior Kristine Mial each hit two quick buckets to pull Lee within 1 point. Madison senior guard Katie Wimmer responded with a score to make it a 3-point game.
Two quick fouls gave Mial four foul shots which gave Lee a one-point lead. Lee had five more foul shots in the final minute to pull away, 53-49, and leave Madison scratching it’s head as to what had just happened.
“We got out-rebounded at times and got out-hustled at times,” said Weinig. “We did a good job of making Lee work for their shots, but then they started getting more offensive rebounds. When I look at the game as a whole, they forced us to play their pace. That is not our game.”
The Madison boys entered the region tournament as the No. 4 seed after losing to Liberty District champ Langley in the district semifinals. The district tournament meeting was the third time the two teams met. In their two regular-season meetings, each team won in a one-possession game. Langley won by 19 points in the district tournament – so when the Warhawks met the Saxons for a fourth time in the region semifinals, they had revenge on their mind.
“They know us real well. They were prepared for us. This was exactly the type of game that I thought it was going to be; I just thought that we would be on the other end – or hoped,” said Madison head coach Chris Kuhblank after the Warhawks’ 46-38 loss to the Saxons.
The defensive-minded Warhawks held the Saxons to 16 first-half points and took a 3-point lead into the locker room.
After Madison hit the first shot of the second half, Langley went on a 16-2 run to end the third quarter and took a 32-24 lead that they would never relinquish.
“We know what good shots are for us. We know who we want to shoot in certain areas. In the third quarter, it got away from us,” said Kuhblank. “We played defense the way that we wanted to but we didn’t manage the offense the way that we typically want to.”
Despite their losses, both coaches were upbeat about their seasons. The two teams combined for a 46-9 record and the Madison girls earned the Liberty District title after two years of falling in the district final.
“We do have that Liberty District banner and nobody can take that away from us, no matter what happened at the regional tournament,” said Weinig.