Nhek pass
Amanda Nhek (23 points) gets a pass up-court over the Wolverines' Martha Gallagher.

Patriot girls reach states for first time in program history

Fresh off an upset of powerful Herndon, some wondered if Patriot could sustain the same high level of play a night later against West Potomac. Senior guard Amanda Nhek and the Pioneers answered that question right away.

Wednesday night Nhek came right out and buried a three to open the game and never let up. She finished with 23 points to help power Patriot to a 63-47 road victory. The win sealed a date with conference rival Battlefield in the 6A North regional semis on Friday and clinched a berth at states. The appearance there will be the first in program history.

Nobody saw Patriot, the lowest-seeded team in the tournament from the Cedar Run, coming. Head coach Antoinette Wadsworth credited a lot of people for the program’s triumph.

“The wins for the players and the program are the fruit of our belief, commitment, hard work and dedication to the growth that’s spanned the program for the last couple of years. It’s a belief that comes from our school administration, athletic department, players and parents,” Wadsworth said.

Her players weren’t fooling around from the onset last night. While West Potomac struggled to pierce the Pioneers’ 2-3 zone and looked tentative, committing numerous turnovers, Patriot came out with assertiveness en route to a 14-2 early lead. Nhek had eight of those points including two threes.

“She’s a competitor,” Wadsworth said of her point guard. “She believes in the capabilities of our team and our program and our program and she’s hungry–she’s committed to getting it done.”

Nhek attacks the hoop in the first half of the Pioneers' victory.
Nhek attacks the hoop in the first half of the Pioneers’ victory. Four Patriot seniors combined for 53 points last night.

To the Wolverines’ credit, they did battle back, using their superior size to get better looks inside. West Potomac went on a 10-0 run to open the second quarter to tie things up at 16. But then Nhek struck again, this time with a lay-up off a fast break rebound. Patriot (16-9) extended the lead to double digits by halftime and would never relinquish it.

The Patriot seniors got it done when it mattered most. In addition to Nhek, Tennessee State-signee Autumn Hopson added 14 points on 10-11 shooting from the free throw line. Fellow seniors Ava Pell and Anna Lonchar added eight points apiece.

West Potomac (18-9) was led by a spirited effort by senior Grace Moery, who scored 17 points. But leading scorers Ty Taylor and Natalie Terwilliger were held below their scoring averages and the Wolverines could not hit from outside to open up their post game. Not known as a team that makes a lot of three-pointers, the Wolverines seemed to force far too many and only had two on the night.

–Chris Jollay

West Potomac’s Haleigh Hopper shoots the jumper over the Patriot defense. The Wolverines weren’t able to exploit their height advantage, however.