HARRISONBURG -- Broad Run senior Erin Thompson couldn't help but be a little irked as she heard the celebratory cheers in the locker room right next to hers.
In four years at Broad Run, Thompson has been a part of three Dulles District championship teams and won two games in the regional tournament, but she has never been to the state tournament.
It was a bittersweet ending Friday night when the Spartans lost to Turner Ashby, 54-46, at James Madison in the AA Region II semifinals. Thompson, like most of the other Spartans, didn't expect to achieve as much success as they did. But when the state tournament was within her reach, it still hurt to come so close and lose.
"That pushes it," Thompson said of listening to the Knights celebrating in their locker room. "You're already upset in that situation. It only adds to the frustration."
But even Thompson and fellow senior Daniele Delahaba perk up when they think about the future of the program and the groundwork they have laid. The Spartans, who finished 21-6 with just two seniors, will have nine players back, including Dulles District Player of the Year Alexis Campbell.
"Alexis was a big part of the team this year," Delahaba said. "If the younger girls boost their confidence, they'll step it up."
Sophomore forwards Haley Johnson and Holly King played a big role on this season's team, as did 5-foot-11 inside players Maggie Andricosky, a freshman, and Caitlin Hunter, a sophomore.
"The JV team only lost three or four games," O'Hara said, "and with nine varsity players possibly coming back we think the future looks great."
The Spartans' youth was on display at times Friday night, with several turnovers late in the game in key situations. Broad Run also went scoreless for long stretches. Twice in the fourth quarter it went three minutes or more without scoring. Even still, the Spartans were able to get within three points twice in the last minute on layins by Andricosky and Campbell.
"They believed they could beat this team and get to the state tournament for the first time," O'Hara said.
At the beginning of the season, O'Hara said he never would have expected to be playing for a state tournament berth because of the Spartans' youth and inexperience. He credits the success to chemistry.
"You might have a team that has played together for three or four years, and you just don't have the chemistry," O'Hara said. "There's a clique here, a clique there, but these kids -- I'm not sure exactly why -- but [chemistry] was a big part of our success."