This Week in Northern Virginia High School Basketball
It's the time of the basketball season when the contenders have separated themselves from the pretenders. It's also the time when another sort of team emerges -- the kind with a so-so record but the ability to cause successful teams problems in a single-elimination situation such as a district quarterfinal.
One such potential girls' spoiler is Concorde District team Robinson, which has beaten Liberty stalwarts Marshall and Madison, split with Centreville and Chantilly and played district front-runner Oakton to 10- and six-point losses.
"I'm just hoping the kids believe that," Robinson Coach T.J. Dade said of the chance to pull an upset or two in the Concorde tournament. "The roller coaster season that we're having is not a surprise to me. We beat some of the teams that I don't think some people thought we were going to beat, and then lost a few that I think we should have won."
The problem for the Rams (9-8, 3-7), who have dropped three straight, has been inconsistency, particularly with their post play. Headed into the week, the team had been outrebounded in every game but two.
Seven Rams have scored in double figures this season, but senior guard Caitlin Henry (13.9 ppg) has been the only steady points producer. She has encountered a steady diet of gimmicky defenses and double teams. Freshman guard Samantha Partonen has scored season highs of 10 and 15 points the past two games.
Another team that could pull a postseason surprise is Hayfield.
Playing a challenging schedule, the Hawks lost their first eight games and were 4-13 headed into Tuesday night, but they had won their past two games. And their most recent Patriot District losses were to Lake Braddock by four, South County by seven, West Springfield by one, Lee by 11 and T.C. Williams by three.
Oakton Nears .500
The strong play lately of senior point guard Bret Luhman has the Oakton boys entering the week having won four of five games and within sight of a .500 record for the first time this season.
The Cougars (9-10, 4-5 Concorde District) surprised district foe Robinson, 65-61, Friday. Junior guard Donovan Myers (14 points), Luhman (13) and senior post Justin Epperson (12) led a balanced attack.
During the Cougars' streak, Luhman played 32 minutes and scored 14 points with no turnovers in a win over Fairfax. He had eight assists in a win over Centreville and had just two turnovers in 32 minutes against the Rams.
"I had to apologize to Bret's father after the game that I couldn't get him out of there," said Cougars Coach David Spannbauer. "Bret was really ill, but we really needed him for every second and he was playing so hard. The big difference in our team now is that we're maturing and learning to hang in there, not giving up leads late, but holding on to win."
Oakton has won more games for first-year coach Spannbauer than it managed all of last season.