West Potomac defense
Tournament MVP Ty Taylor (left) and Lauren Ellis prepare to put pressure on the Panthers' Sara Park.

West Potomac overpowers Potomac School for Joe Cascio title

The West Potomac girls have a lot of elements that can give teams trouble if the Wolverines execute well. They have size, speed, shooting–they’re the type of team that can get contributions from a lot of different places when it counts.

That was obvious Friday night as the Lady Wolverines took home the Joe Cascio Tournament title at Falls Church. Center Natalie Terwilliger scored 13 points, collected 15 rebounds and even dished out five assists. Point guard and Tournament MVP Ty Taylor matched Terwilliger’s assist and point totals. Guard Grace Moery contributed 15 points off the bench.

“Everybody contributed tonight,” West Potomac coach Brian Colligan said after the game. “We really stress it’s all of us. We don’t necessarily have one player who is a superstar. On any given night we have girls who can step up–even some of the girls who didn’t play tonight.”

West Potomac’s Natalie Terwilliger prepares to receive the high post pass from Lauren Ellis.

Step up they did against a Potomac School team that was missing three starters, but still with two extremely dangerous guards in Sara Park and Courtlynne Caskin–the latter averaging around 20 points a game. The Panthers, however, found it difficult to match the physical play of the bigger, taller Wolverines.

West Potomac (6-4) opened the game on a 6-0 run, extending its lead to 14-5 in the early second quarter. Caskin didn’t score in the opening frame, and the Wolverines repeatedly blocked the Panthers’ shots in the lane. It didn’t seem like The Potomac School could give West Potomac a game.

But, the Panthers (7-3) adjusted to the physical nature of the contest and started to do damage. Caskin (18 points) eventually started to draw fouls and successfully attack the basket. Park (14 points, total) was especially good in the second quarter to help keep the Panthers within five at halftime. The Potomac School sat in a zone for much of the first portion of the game, hoping to keep the bigger, stronger Wolverines off the boards. For a while, that worked.

After halftime West Potomac started to press the issue more forcefully. The Wolverines relentlessly trapped and pressed Park and Caskin and attacked the Panthers’ zone much better. Post players Terwilliger and Harleigh Hopper cleared space down low and received easy lobs. Taylor and Lauren Ellis (nine points, eight rebounds, four assists) pushed the tempo, played aggressive defense and distributed the ball effectively. Even with West Potomac’s size advantage, the diminutive but talented Moery proved one of the Wolverines’ best finishers, finishing six of ten from the field.

The Panthers' Courtlynne Caskin scored 18, but it was hard-earned.
The Panthers’ Courtlynne Caskin scored a game-high 18, but it was hard-earned.

To the Panthers’ credit, and despite a 40-26 rebounding deficit on the night, they just didn’t go away. They were able to cut the lead to five points at several points in the second half, the latest after Park drove the lane and completed a three-point play with 3:47 left. The Potomac School just didn’t have enough firepower on this particular night to earn the victory.

“They did a good job matching up on our two guards and we struggled to find a third option tonight,” Potomac School coach Mike Hutton said. “I give them credit for taking away our two offensive weapons. We kept the score down, right where we wanted it to be. Just didn’t get it done.”

Both the public and private school teams seemed to grow from the tournament experience and look forward to their respective league play. The Potomac School will host Saint John Paul the Great on Tuesday, while West Potomac will travel to Woodson. Coach Colligan came away happy with his team’s performance.

“We’ve got work to do, but we’re definitely happy with the outcome tonight. We played some hard defense and when it counted we had good possessions. In order for us to win we have to continue to get total team efforts.”

–Chris Jollay

stats are unofficial

TAYLOR 6-12 1-3 13 4 5
ESSEX 1-4 0-0 2 2 0
GALLAGHER 0-2 0-0 0 0 0
ELLIS 3-10 3-4 9 8 4
TERWILLIGER 6-16 0-0 13 15 5
Moery 6-10 1-3 15 5 0
Hopper 1-3 1-2 3 6 0
TOTALS 23-57 6-12 55 40 14
Threes: Moery 2-5, Terwilliger 1-1, Ellis 0-1, Essex 0-1, Taylor 0-1
GERMANIS 3-11 0-0 6 2 2
CASKIN 6-19 5-8 18 8 1
GARIBALDI 1-6 0-0 2 3 0
PARK 6-16 2-4 14 5 1
MORAN 2-10 1-1 5 7 0
Buckwald 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Regan 0-1 0-0 0 0 0
TOTALS 18-63 8-13 45 26 4
Threes: Caskin 1-5, Park 0-3, Germanis 0-1, Moran 0-1