Minutes before his Raiders took the home floor against the Park View High School girls basketball team Tuesday night, Loudoun County Coach Bob Pingley made one thing abundantly clear.
"I told them we can't worry about what any other team in this area is doing other than us," he said. "We have a game tonight that we have to play. I told them to bring out the press and jump out quickly."
And that's just what the Raiders did.
Combining a strong, full-court press and a balanced offense, Northwestern District-leading Loudoun County topped the Patriots, 65-28.
"Our strong defense is our best offense," said sophomore forward Katie Baldwin, who finished with 18 points and four steals. "I thought we played pretty well tonight, especially in the beginning."
That's when Baldwin was at her best, too. Loudoun County (16-1 overall, 10-1 Northwestern) opened the game on a 19-4 run, led by Baldwin's 10 points--five layups--during the 4-minute, 25-second stretch.
After calling a timeout, Park View (7-10) took better care of the ball but couldn't convert their opportunities into points, with Megan Doughty the exception. The freshman forward scored six of the Patriots' seven first-quarter points, as the they trailed 23-7 at the end of the first quarter.
After all five of its starters scored in the opening quarter, Loudoun County went on a 13-2 run to begin the second quarter behind an offensive strategy that relied on a quick passing game to beat the Patriots' zone and a defense that forced Park View into ill-advised passes that were turned into Raiders layups.
"Our defense won the game," said junior forward Stacy James, who scored 18 in addition to her game-high six steals. "Our defense let us score a lot of easy baskets, and that was why we were able to win."
With his team up 35-9 with 4:48 left in the first half, Pingley changed his strategy to taking time off the clock--not adding to his team's score--and took a 39-15 lead into halftime.
However, when the Raiders returned to the floor for the second half, they brought their press with them. Though the Patriots showed improvement against the Raiders' press, Park View made just one of 10 shots in the third quarter. The Patriots found themselves down 57-20 heading into the final quarter, despite the fact that Loudoun County had members of its second team play a great deal in the third quarter.
"Every player contributed," Pingley said of a performance in which nine of his 10 Raiders scored. "It was just a total team effort. We got off to a quick start, and other than a few spots here and there, I thought we played very well."
Loudoun County--Kidwell 2 0-0 4, James 8 1-1 18, Bolton 6 0-0 13, Baldwin 9 0-0 18, Forsythe 1 0-0 2, Grimes 1 0-0 2, Kelly 1 0-0 2, Higgins 2 0-2 4, Shannon 1 0-0 2. Totals: 32 1-3 65.
Park View--Skinner 1 4-6 6, Cook 1 2-2 4, Vanderslice 0 0-2 0, Doughty 6 0-2 12, Powers 1 0-0 2, Lebida 1 0-0 2, Wimmer 1 0-0 2. Totals: 11 6-12 28.
Halftime: Loudoun County, 39-15.
Three-point goals: Loudoun County 2 (James 1, Bolton 1); Park View 0.
CAPTION: Loudoun County's Katie Baldwin (18 points), left, races for ball after a steal from Kathleen Vanderslice of Park View.