For a while, the Robinson Secondary girls’ basketball team was able to stay with Northern Region power Oakton during last Friday night’s Concorde District tournament championship game, which took place at Chantilly High School.
But Oakton, behind District Player of the Year Caroline Coyer, took control of the game during an outstanding second quarter of play and went on to successfully defend their title as district champions with a 47-33 victory.
Both Oakton and Robinson were scheduled to host first round Northern Region tournament games earlier this week on Monday, Feb. 21 - Oakton versus Annandale, and Robinson versus South County.
Coyer, whose twin sister, Katherine, was unavailable for the finals game after injuring an ankle during Oakton’s 53-47 semifinals win over host Westfield two nights earlier on Wednesday, Feb. 16, converted three, long range 3-point shots during the decisive second quarter and scored 11 of her game-high 22 points during the stanza as the Cougars (22-1), who trailed 8-7 after one quarter, built a 24-12 lead by halftime.
Oakton’s lead ultimately reached 17 points at 35-18 in the third quarter and the tough Rams (16-6), the tournament’s No. 2-seed behind top seeded Oakton, could never get within striking range thereafter.
Coyer, a junior guard, opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer from the right wing area to give Oakton a 10-8 lead. Later in the quarter, she nailed consecutive treys – the first from the right corner and the latter from the right of the top of the key – to put the Cougars ahead 18-10. For good measure, the sharp-shooter drained a close-range shot at the first half buzzer to give Oakton its 12-point halftime advantage.
“We kind of played straight up against her [defensively],” said Robinson junior guard Megan Green, of defending Coyer. “But she’s very good.”
Coyer earned tournament MVP honors. Other Cougars named to the all-tournament team were sophomore center Elizabeth Manner (9 points, 7 rebounds) and senior shooting guard Zora Stephenson. For Robinson, Green (10 points) made the all-tourney team.
<b>COYER’S SIBLING</b>, Katherine, a Second Team All-District selection this season and the District’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, had scored 10 points before her injury in Oakton’s semifinals win over Westfield. Against Robinson, other players picked up the slack with her not being able to play.
Along with the big games from Caroline Coyer and Manner, the Cougars received solid title game outings from senior guards Danielle Davis (7 points) and Corinne Holland (4 points). Stephenson, who scored 13 points in the win over Westfield, had a rare low scoring game versus the Rams with two points.
But a huge factor in Oakton’s strong showing against Robinson was the Cougars’ stellar team defensive play. Even with Katherine Coyer, considered to be one of the region’s top defenders, missing the game, Oakton played exceptional defense.
“It’s always a little bit more intense in a championship game because you don’t want to get beat,” said Caroline Coyer. “With Katherine out, we didn’t have our defensive stopper. The keys [tonight] were stopping their inside game and valuing every [offensive] possession.”
Green was the lone Robinson player to score in double digits with her 10 points. Robinson’s next top scorers in the loss were junior guard Tyler Hansen (6 points), who made two 3-pointers, junior forward Brigitte Kuter (5 points) and senior guard Lauren Denham (5).
“It was tough tonight,” said Robinson’s Green. “We didn’t play as good as we should have. We played scared at first. We needed to attack the basket more.”
Green said the Rams, even with the title game loss, still accomplished a lot going into this week’s regionals. Robinson defeated Centreville last Wednesday, Feb. 16 in a district semifinals game to reach the district finals. Denham and sophomore Dhyamond Crenshaw both scored 13 points in the win over the Wildcats, while Green scored seven and Hansen six.
“Our goal was to get to the district championship game and to get a first round [region playoff] bye,” said Green.
Oakton, meanwhile, is poised to make another strong run at a region crown. Manner, Oakton’s talented inside player, said things are easier for her inside the paint because of the Cougars’ prolific talent at the guard spots, where First Team All-District players Caroline Coyer and Stephenson, as well as Second Teamers Katherine Coyer and Davis give opposing teams fits.
“Our guards are always on,” said Manner, a third team All-District selection. “You can always trust them to hit shots. And if they are guarded, they can get the ball inside to me. Tonight, we definitely wanted to win the game for Katherine.”
Caroline Coyer, who has led Oakton to region titles the past two years, said the postseason is a special time for the Cougars.
“Winning never gets old,” she said.