Thursday, February 16th, 2017
Last night there was more boys’ action than girls’ but there were some fairly significant developments on the girls’ side. Fifth-seeded Stonewall Jackson stunned top-seeded Battlefield in the semis of the Cedar Run 44-40, important for a bunch of reasons.
First, the Cedar Run is matched up with the Concorde, so whoever wins the conference tournament gets to avoid three of the strongest teams around first round of regionals: Chantilly, Oakton and Herndon. Now Battlefield must play one of those potent teams in the first round. (Note: Just found out the regular season champion in Cedar Run is protected as the number one seed in regionals regardless. That seems stupid to us–isn’t an automatic invite to regionals enough? Gives the regular season champ very little incentive in the tourney. But…whatever.
Congrats to the Raiders, who finished last in the conference but are playing their best ball when it matters most. Last night Stonewall outscored Battlefield 17-9 in the fourth quarter. When you think about playing the Raiders the player you most want to stop is senior Megan Callahan. Callahan only had six points last night on two of thirteen shooting, making the upset all the more impressive. Senior Ricka Jackson continues to be huge, scoring 14 points and pulling down 11 rebounds last night. They’ll play Osbourn Park Friday for the conference title, which won a huge game over Patriot in the other semi-final.
In other action last night Wakefield defeated Marshall to advance to the Conference 13 Final. Hats off to the Thomas Jefferson Colonials, who gave top-seeded Edison all it could handle before falling in overtime. Liz Reed did a fantastic job there this year, but the Colonials’ season isn’t over. TJ will play Marshall with a berth to regionals on the line. But Edison and Wakefield are clearly the top two teams in the conference; they’ll play for the title on Friday. Congrats to those two squads as well. Edison had an easy time with the Warriors in their last meeting but expect this game to be much closer.
Tuscarora keeps rolling in Conference 14 and looks unstoppable. Second-seeded Briar Woods edged Stone Bridge and will meet the Huskies for the title on Friday. Despite Briar Woods having a school-record season for wins, it’ll be extremely difficult for them to stop the Huskies.
Heritage has a similarly tough task against Loudoun County in 21B’s final tonight. The Lady Pride are very solid, but it is hard to envision LC falling when it matters most. Freedom-South Riding also plays Liberty in the Conference 22 title game tonight, and Woodbridge is in action in their conference’s semis down south. If anyone can stop the Vikings in that tournament it would be miraculous.
The Patriot semis and Liberty semis are also tonight. We’ll be at South Lakes for the Liberty, but we’ll be eagerly anticipating results from the Patriot at SoCo. We watched a rapidly improving Woodson team Tuesday, can they defeat the juggernaut of top-seeded T.C. Williams? The Titans are strong inside and out and are one of the favorites to win the region, let alone the district. West Potomac and Lake Braddock play in the other semi in a total toss up.
Will we get more upsets tonight? We hope so. There are still powerful teams that dominate girls basketball, but there sure seems like there’s a heckuva lot more parity out there these days than there was 10-15 years ago. That’s good. That’s fun. Tough not to root for the TJs and the Stonewall Jacksons out there.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017
Big day. Be sure and check the schedule for a complete list of playoff games. Last night Stonewall Jackson got 31 total points from Megan Callahan and Ricka Jackson to defeat Osbourn 53-45 and advance to face Battlefield in the Conference 8 semis. The win was of course doubly important as it got the Raiders into regionals as well.
Also congrats to the Woodgrove girls, who upset #1 Sherando out in the 4A West Conference 21A semis.
Now, onto tonight. As mentioned below a lot of the intrigue is on the Liberty side. In that conference there’s not a lot of difference between the #2 and #6 seeds, which makes tonight’s elimination games all the more interesting. Two pretty good basketball teams will miss regionals when #3 Fairfax hosts #6 Madison and #4 South Lakes hosts #5 Hayfield tonight. Those teams split their regular season meetings.
Even #2 McLean is by no means safe against #7 Yorktown, a pretty solid although young team. The Highlanders are hot, having won six of seven, but they only beat Yorktown by single digits in both of their meetings. Should be fun.
Too many games to mention tonight, but another big one is #3 Park View at #2 Heritage in the 21B semis. The Lady Pride swept Park View during the regular season but Park View is a dangerous team capable of an upset. In the Patriot, West Potomac and Lake Braddock are the best teams behind TC Williams, but they have to be careful tonight. West Springfield and a now-healthier Annandale are capable of pulling upsets. We’ll be at Woodson for #5 South County at #4 W.T. Woodson. The Cavs are much-improved but South County, though very young, could be dangerous.
As far as high-quality action, nothing will be better than #8 (in our Nova Nineteen) Chantilly at #6 Herndon in the Concorde semis. Chantilly swept Herndon during the regular season, winning both games by a single point. Conventional logic says beating a team three times in a season is…well, we’ll just see what happens.
Let’s not forget the George Mason girls, who host Clarke County in the Conference 35 Finals tonight.
Saturday, February 11th, 2017
No huge upsets on the girls’ side for tourney play. In the Concorde Chantilly and Centreville hold serve to advance and eliminate Robinson and Westfield.
We were really eager to see how seeding went in the old Liberty. Entering play Friday night five teams were within a game of one another, with only that slight margin separating the #2 and #6 seeds. Well, we’re set now:
#8 Washington and Lee at #1 Langley
#5 Hayfield at #4 South Lakes
#6 Madison at #3 Fairfax
#7 Yorktown at #2 McLean
Langley is clearly the favorite but can be beaten. McLean came out of nowhere to grab the #2 seed, winning five out of its last six games and impressively sweeping Fairfax. Some fairly solid teams are clearly going to miss out on the regional tournament this year here. Obviously the first round games matter a bunch, but seeding for the regional tournament will be huge as the tourney continues.
We’ll be following this tourney closely. Any of those teams seeded #2 through #6 could make a little run at regionals or their season could just as easily end early next week. It will be fun, and we’re looking forward to it.
Friday, February 10th, 2017
Conference 5 Tournament
#6 Robinson 41 at #3 Chantilly 58
#5 Westfield 39 at #4 Centreville 53
Conference 15 Tournament
Potomac 41 at Mountain View 62
Conference 21A Tournament
#5 Harrisonburg 58 at #4 Woodgrove 69
Conference 21B Tournament
#5 Dominion 28 at #4 Loudoun Valley 46
#6 Rock Ridge 23 at #3 Park View 59
Conference 28 Tournament
#8 Manassas Park 35 at #1 Culpeper 61
#5 Skyline 45 at #4 Riverside 29
#7 James Monroe 20 at #2 Brentsville 50
Just like with the boys, most conferences are wrapping up their regular seasons tonight. (We’re particularly interested to see where the teams in the old Liberty end up seeding-wise, #2 through #6.) But, several tournaments begin this evening, where it is essentially sink or swim for a number of teams.
Once again, Conference 5 is where the action we’ll be following the closest is. We’ve heard it called the “murder district,” the “group of death,” “not your mother’s Concorde district” and other things–basically nobody makes fun of this conference (to its face, anyway.) Oakton, Herndon and Chantilly are legit top ten teams around NOVA, and Centreville can beat anyone on a given day. Then, there’s Westfield and Robinson, which want to join the party.
“Playing in the Concorde is like swimming in the ocean on a stormy day with the waves crashing over and over,” Westfield first-year coach Noel Klippenstein says. “Relentless, but it’s what makes the game and the players so great. We are learning to love the pressure and embrace the challenges.”
Neither Westfield nor Robinson are bad teams and both are improving. Robinson is powered by talented sophomores and has a bright future, but the Rams’ reward for finishing last in the Concorde is a trip to Chantilly tonight. We would love to see a good game there but it would be stunning if the Rams can pull the upset. Westfield has a little bit more manageable task at Centreville. The Wildcats are very good, but inconsistent. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, stunned Chantilly earlier this week and are rapidly improving under Klippenstein.
“The players have been learning a new system and it has taken a while to gel,” Klippenstein says. “Our team has been steadily improving as we work harder and play together better.”
But can the Bulldogs upset Centreville, which has wins over Chantilly, Fairfax, and Herndon, among others? The Wildcats swept the Bulldogs during the regular season, although the second game was much closer than the first.
“The first game was rough for us but we made some adjustments and really saw the team gel the second time we played,” Klippenstein says. “We lost in OT, but our plan will still revolve around timing, execution and playing together. ‘Together’ has been our cheer for about 10 games and it shows when we do well.”
Should be a great game. The Wildcats play great defense and have a balanced scoring attack led by sophomore Ashley Martin and junior Callie Doyle. The Bulldogs need senior center Tori Martin and others to keep the Wildcats off the offensive boards and they need to score. Getting Centreville in some foul trouble wouldn’t hurt, either–last month Robinson was able to upset Centreville in part by getting Doyle in foul trouble.
Looking forward to all the action tonight! Elsewhere, Ada Stanley leads Brentsville into its tournament as the #2 seed. The #1 seed, Culpeper, edged Brentsville in their last contest, but expect a rematch for the conference championship next week.