Taking your team out of the area for the holidays can be good, bad, or somewhere in-between. Often you’re not sure how good the competion will be. Sometimes players look at it as more a vacation instead of a working vacation. Some break team rules and get into trouble.
It appears one team that has been benefited from a working vacation over the holidays has been Noel Klippenstein’s Westfield Bulldogs. After winning two games before falling in the title game of a Florida tournament over the break, the Bulldogs have been good. More like very, very good–handing then-#2 Herndon its only loss of the year, plus defeating #16 Oakton and #13 Centreville by double digits. Westfield is now 10-4 and sits atop the tough Concorde District.
“In Florida we saw some terrific competition and the experience pulled us together,” Klippenstein told us. “Bonus, we had a lot of fun together.”
The road trip and experience certainly appear to be paying off. On the court, the question before the season was if enough players, both seniors and (much) younger, could step up to compliment scoring guard Nicole McNamara and athletic forward Kirah Johnson. So far so good, with senior guard-forward Wanna Wardak and sophomore guard Hannah Williams combining for about 20 a game and freshmen like forward Gabby Reed contributing significantly.
Long way to go yet, to be sure. But the ingredients appear to be there this year for the Bulldogs to do damage in the tough 6D region.
Usually girls basketball is kind of top-heavy talent-wise around NOVA and this year has generally been no different. But we’re getting a sense there might be a little more parity than usual this year. It’s hard to gauge, though, because a lot of teams have been missing key players for games at a time. That should start to change soon as coaches embark into the meat of district play, so we’ll get a better sense in the next few weeks, but there’s a feeling that more upsets are possible this year.
First, you have teams like Westfield and South Lakes which appear to be ready to slug with the traditional heavyweights. The Seahawks (11-1) have a monster game against one of those heavyweights, Herndon, this evening. Although the Hornets are still playing without Taylor Strawser, we’ll know more about South Lakes after tonight. The Seahawks look like a team to be reckoned with, though, especially after having no trouble with West Potomac the other night.
There seem to be a lot more teams around as well that aren’t going to win the region or anything, but can cause trouble once the playoffs start. We’ll get a look at one of those teams, McLean, tonight against powerful Langley. But teams like Chantilly, Yorktown, South County, Lake Braddock and more can be dangerous when at full strength. There’s too many teams to mention, but first-round games in regional tournaments might be a little more interesting than in years past. There’s more and more talent out in Loudoun County and down in Prince William as well. Some of it is young, with teams like Colgan and Potomac Falls not quite there yet, but you can see the improvement.
That depth is definitely showing out in the Potomac District, where solid Stone Bridge is currently a fifth-place team. We realize we probably can’t have an eight team district everywhere, but it’s really the best. District tournaments are a lot more fun with eight. Although in fairness playing Tuscarora and Freedom-South Riding in the first round might not be.