Girls’ basketball: Loudoun County rallies but falls to Lake Taylor in Virginia 4A semis

March 8

Loudoun County senior Maggie Phillips wasn’t ready to think about her high school athletic career coming to an end.

But after four standout years in both basketball and volleyball, her time in a Loudoun County uniform has come to a close. On Saturday, the Raiders fell to Lake Taylor, 42-37, in the Virginia 4A state semifinals at Old Dominion University.

“To think I’m turning in my jersey is tough to think about,” Phillips said in a phone interview after the game. “But I’m happy to do it with this team and this coaching staff.”

Phillips scored 18 points in the loss, which saw Loudoun County trail by eight at the half.

The Raiders (23-6) regrouped after halftime and cut the Lake Taylor lead to 29-28 after the third quarter.

Loudoun County Coach Derek Fisher said his team adjusted to Lake Taylor’s defensive pressure in the second half, which resulted in better shot selection. Phillips said the mentality out of halftime was to be patient in trimming the Titans’ lead.

“We just knew we had to start chipping away slowly,” she said. “We had to keep our defense consistent and pressure them so that our points could add up and be close enough in the fourth quarter to have a chance to take it away.”

With about three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Raiders took a 37-33 lead. From there, the Group AAA state champion from a year ago went on a 9-0 run to advance to the 4A state championship game Thursday against William Fleming in Richmond.

With the game tied at 37-37 and under one minute to go, Lake Taylor (22-4) hit a three-pointer that sealed the win.

“They made more plays than we did in that last three minutes,” Fisher said.

Sophomore Elisabeth Gianelos scored 12 points for the Raiders, and junior Gabrielle Gillis chipped in four.

As one of two senior leaders, Phillips told the returning players to continue striving for a state championship, something that eluded her during her four state tournament appearances with Loudoun County.

Aside from Phillips and fellow senior Kat Kushner, the Raiders return their full roster next winter.

“We got back to the locker room, and everyone was upset about the game and that the season was over,” Phillips said. “I tried to encourage them to stay together and work hard this offseason.”

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