The high school basketball season is now complete for all Northern Region girls’ and boys’ teams. On the girls’ side, Oakton High captured the Virginia State AAA title for the first time ever under longtime head coach Fred Priester. The Cougars defeated Princess Anne (Virginia Beach), 58-39, in the state title game last Friday night at the Siegel Center in Richmond. Oakton, which has won three region crowns over the past four years, finished the winter season with a perfect 31-0 record.
Oakton, led in recent years by the Coyer sisters – senior guards Caroline and Katherine Coyer – had been on the cusp of winning state crowns in 2009 and 2010, but lost to Princess Anne at the state finals (’09) and semifinals (’10) those two seasons. Last year (2011), Oakton was unbeaten before seeing its season end with a loss to West Springfield at the Northern Region tournament semifinals.
This year’s West Springfield girls had a terrific season under longtime head coach Bill Gibson. The Spartans, last year’s region champs, reached this year’s region title game where they lost to Oakton, 63-49, at Robinson Secondary. Three Spartans – April Robinson, Logan Battle, and Amy Berglund – earned All-Region Tournament Team honors.
West Springfield (26-4), by reaching the region title game, qualified for the eight-team state tournament where it lost a quarterfinals contest last week to Highland Springs (Central Region) at the Siegel Center.
A year ago, West Springfield defeated Oakton in the region semifinals then defeated T.C. Williams in the finals to capture the region crown. At the ensuing state tournament, the Spartans defeated Woodside High (Newport News) before losing in the semifinals to Stonewall Jackson at the Siegel Center.
THE TWO NORTHERN REGION boys teams to qualify for the state playoffs this season were Westfield High, which won its’ first-ever region tournament title, and Edison High, the region runner-up.
Westfield’s remarkable 2011-12 winter season came to an end on March 2 when the Bulldogs, competing at the Virginia State AAA playoffs for the first time ever, lost to Henrico High of Richmond, 56-52, in a state quarterfinals round game played at Robinson Secondary. For the season, the Bulldogs, under veteran head coach Doug Ewell, finished 24-5, the best record in the 12-year history of the program.
Westfield, which lost to Robinson in the Concorde District Tournament finals, had close games throughout the regional tournament. The Bulldogs nearly fell in the first round when it went up against a super talented Wakefield High squad from the National District on March 2. But in a close, nail-biter contest from start to finish, the Bulldogs, playing on their home floor, displayed great fortitude in a 57-55 triumph.
The bounce-back win helped put behind the previous week’s district finals loss to Robinson and gave the Bulldogs momentum going into their quarterfinals round game verses T.C. Williams, one of the region’s most heralded and historically successful programs. The game, played on Feb. 22 at T.C.’s home Garden, was defensive-dominated with Westfield coming though with a 43-38 triumph in a game the Titans had led 20-14 at the half. Westfield’s C.J. Hill, who scored the game-winning basket versus Wakefield, led the Bulldogs with 14 points.
Next up for Westfield was a Feb. 25 region semifinals meeting versus McLean, the Liberty District champions. The Bulldogs, who had won their prior two region playoff games by seven points combined, enjoyed some breathing room in a 55-41 victory over the Highlanders, in the Final Four contest played at Robinson. But it was, in fact, a close game through three quarters before the Bulldogs, leading 42-39 going into the final quarter, outscored the Highlanders 13-2 in the fourth quarter to earn a spot in the finals against Edison and gain an automatic seeding for the state playoffs, both achievements being landmark steps for the program.
In the championship game on Feb. 27, also at Robinson, Westfield received a balanced attack behind 6-11 senior center Zach Elcano (17 points), Quentin Basil (16 points, 7 rebounds), and Mark Gibson (10 points). At game’s end, Elcano was named tournament MVP. He was joined by both Basil and Gibson on the seven-member All-Region Tournament team.
The game was close before Westfield broke it open with an 18-4 scoring run over the final six-plus minutes of the third quarter. Basil hit consecutive three-pointers during the key stretch, both treys coming from deep in the left corner.
EDISON reached the region finals with tournament wins over Herndon, Langley, and Fairfax, the latter win over the Rebels coming in overtime. Edison, going into the championship against Westfield, was carrying an eight-game win streak.
In the championship game, Edison trailed Westfield, 22-21, at the intermission. But the Bulldogs, leading 24-23 early in the third quarter, then broke the game open with a game-defining 18-4 stretch over the final six-and-a-half minutes of the quarter. Edison had two players named to All-Northern Region Tournament Team – big man Matt Murphy and guard/forward Tyrone Mackall, who led Edison with 17 points in the championship. Edison, as a team, earned the region tournament Sportsmanship Award.
Edison’s improbable breakthrough season came to an end early last week at the Siegel Center where the Eagles, under head coach Terry Henderson, lost their Virginia State AAA quarterfinals round playoff game to Petersburg High (Central Region), 68-61. With the loss, Edison concluded the season with a 19-10 record.
THE ROBINSON BOYS had a good season, finishing 17-8 and capturing the Concorde District Tournament championship with a 62-60 finals win over top seed Westfield, who had not lost a district game all season long until the title game setback to the Rams. Robert Pillow (18 points), Chris Calcador (16), and Tristian Crenshaw (14) had big games for Robinson in the finals. The Rams’ season ended with a tough first round region tournament playoff loss to Yorktown.
THE FAIRFAX HIGH boys’ highly successful first season under head coach Mike Barbee ended with a 69-65 loss to Edison in the Northern Region tournament semifinals at Robinson. With the defeat, Fairfax’s season ended with a 16-12 record. Fairfax, following an 11-10 regular season, was not considered one of the region’s elite teams going into the postseason. But at the Liberty District Tournament, the Rebels, as the No. 4-seed, won their quarterfinals round game over No. 5 Stone Bridge, 61-54, to advance to the semifinals and also earn an automatic seeding for the next week’s 16-team regionals.
In the district semifinals, Fairfax stunned top seed Langley, the three-time defending district champions, by a 56-49 score. That advanced the Rebels to the district title game on Feb. 17 at South Lakes High School. There, against No. 2-seed McLean, Fairfax fell behind 11-0 at the start but rallied and ultimately took the contest to double overtime before falling 60-57.
The dramatic loss to McLean was not the ending coach Barbee and his team had hoped for once they had reached the finals, but the Rebels had stepped up in a big time way at districts and were hungry to see how far they could go at regionals.
Fairfax opened regionals with another overtime game - defeating cross-town opponent and host team W.T. Woodson by a 54-51 score on Feb. 20. Zack Burnett, who was having a sensational postseason, led the Rebels with 20 points in the victory. Woodson, a member of the Patriot District, was led by Alfred Carr’s 14 points. The Cavaliers, with the loss, finished the season 20-5.
Fairfax, in its second round (quarterfinals) game on Feb. 22, soundly defeated visiting Yorktown (National District), 58-38. The Rebels, playing in front of their home crowd, jumped out to a 19-5 lead and never looked back.
The win moved Fairfax on to the prestigious region Final Four and a meeting versus Edison. Simply getting to the region semifinals was a huge accomplishment for the Rebels.