The text covering the back of the T-shirt Oakton girls’ basketball Coach Fred Priester wore during the Cassel’s Cougar Holiday Classic final on Monday amounted to a cliche. But with an undefeated start, the Cougars have embodied the witty message to a letter.
“I am a role player,” the gold print reads. “Everyone on my team is a role player. Our role — help our team win.”
In Monday’s final, everyone on the team got a chance. Ten Cougars scored and three players recorded double-digit points in an 87-41 drubbing of Loudoun County.
“There’s a purpose to this shirt,” Priester said “We have so many people who are able to contribute. We want everybody to believe, no matter what they contribute, it’s important.”
Sophomore guard Alex Marquis scored a game-high 25 points for Oakton (10-0), including three three-pointers. She did much of her work in transition, corralling passes that were on point time after time.
“We played defense really well as a team today, and it led to our offense by getting steals,” Marquis said. “We turned it into fast breaks, and our shots just happened to fall today.”
The Raiders (7-2) accomplished something neither of Oakton’s previous tournament foes could muster — breaking the 30-point mark. It didn’t matter. Oakton opened with a 12-2 run and extended its advantage to 38-17 by halftime.
In all, the Cougars made five three-pointers and showed precision accuracy with their mid-range jumpers.
“We’re a team with a lot of guards who feel the floor,” said freshman Aisha Sheppard, who scored 14 points. “Whatever shot is open, we take. We don’t like to force anything.”
The torrid scoring pace was a result of ball movement. Oakton drained the majority of its looks because they were open.
“We’re turning all [our shooters] pretty loose,” Priester said. “I’ll tell them when to stop shooting. I like the shots we’re taking. I feel like even when we’ve missed it’s been mostly a good shot.”
Five players from the two finalists were named to the all-tournament team: the Raiders’ Maggie Phillips (nine points), and Alyssa Paige (seven points) and Oakton’s Sheppard, Karlie Cronin (14 points) and Marquis (named MVP).