No hands would have gone up in November, and no hands likely went up when the region bracket came out two weeks ago either. The kind of season that was suspected in the Northern Region turned out to be the kind of season it was.
“Told you the region was down this year,” a Northern Region coach mentioned at Robinson on Friday, after state tournament newbie Colonial Forge had eliminated region champ Edison with relative ease in the state quarterfinals.
The game after, short-handed Stonewall Jackson beat South Lakes, marking the first time since the 2007-08 season and just the second time in the past 10 years that the Northern Region has not qualified a team for the state semifinals.
This had all the makings of a region-wide developmental season, with 2012 graduates such as the Coyer sisters at Oakton and Logan Battle and April Robinson at West Springfield giving way to…whom exactly? There were several fine seniors, but Lake Braddock center Natalie Butler, the region player of the year and a Georgetown signee, is the only Northern Region player from the Class of 2013 headed to a major conference.
The traditional powers, Oakton and West Springfield, were in serious retooling mode, although Oakton might still be playing had standout center Elizabeth Manner not broken her thumb in the first round of the region tournament. Consensus favorite Mount Vernon was so intent on challenging for a region title that it hung a 10-foot-by-7-foot “Unfinished Business” team photo banner in the gym (the previous year’s banner was a relatively modest 7×5 feet by comparison). South Lakes upset the Majors in the region quarterfinals.
So Edison (seven wins over teams with 18-plus victories but three losses to Mount Vernon) and South Lakes (two late-season losses to Madison, including in the Liberty District semifinals) filled the void and earned their way into states, even if their stays were short.
Just as 2012-13 was down, 2013-14 could be up. Edison will return almost everybody, including rising freshman standout Jada Graves, who turned heads with a 76-point region tournament. South Lakes will bring back four of its top five scorers, including talented posts Abigail Rendle and Princess Aghayere. West Springfield loses only two seniors, none among the top scorers. Four of the 10 first-team all-region players will return — Centreville guard Jenna Green, Fairfax guard Kylie Murphree, West Springfield forward Amy Berglund and Washington-Lee guard Tatianna Torres.
What’s unfortunate for annually strong Edison and Mount Vernon is that this was their last opportunity to face the Northern Region’s perennial powers in the postseason. Starting with the 2013-14 school year, most of the region will play in new classification 6A North. Nine region schools will be in 5A North — Jefferson, Marshall, Edison, Falls Church, Mount Vernon, Stuart, Wakefield, Lee and Stone Bridge — and will vie for different postseason prizes than the 6A North teams.
It could mean an easier path to a state title, but it might not be as satisfying of an achievement.
In action over the weekend:
- W.T. Woodson, with characteristic balance, moved on to the Virginia AAA boys’ semifinals.
- The Avalon boys won the St. Anselm’s Invitational, topping off its season in more ways than one.
- The Paul VI Catholic girls won their seventh consecutive state independent school title, soothing the disappointment of not reaching the WCAC final.
- The Loudoun County girls lost four times to Woodgrove this season. Yet it is the Raiders who are moving on to the Virginia AA Division 4 state semifinals, not the Wolverines.
- The Whitman girls knocked off two-time defending state champion Gaithersburg in the Maryland 4A West final and Paint Branch lost late in the 4A North championship.
- The George Mason girls won their Virginia A Division 2 quarterfinal and can snag a fourth state title in five years.
- The Calvert girls won the Maryland 2A South title for the third straight year.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 5 OR 10 (OR MORE OR LESS)
The Capital Weather Gang as of 5 a.m. Monday morning predicts that the area had a 45 to 60 percent chance of five inches or more of snow falling between Tuesday night and Wednesday night, and a 10 to 30 percent chance of 10 inches or more. This could affect the Maryland state tournament girls’ games scheduled for Thursday — five ranked teams will be in action at UMBC — and the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational tournament in snowier-than-here Cumberland, Md., also scheduled to start Thursday. Our top three teams — St. John’s, Spalding and Good Counsel — are in action there.
Twelve area wrestlers won titles at the Maryland 4A/3A championships, including Northern’s Brant Leadbeter and Thomas Stone’s Garrett Lineberger, who both capped unbeaten senior seasons in winning their second consecutive state crowns.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY (if you feel like a drive)
Three Northern Virginia teams are playing state semifinals at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond:
W.T. Woodson boys vs. Henrico, 3:15 p.m.
If the Cavaliers are fortunate enough to gain a comfortable lead, they can’t sit on it. Henrico rallied from nine points down in the final four minutes to beat Kecoughtan in the quarterfinals.
Stonewall Jackson girls vs. Princess Anne, 7 p.m.
Tough draw for the Raiders. Princess Anne has reached the past four state finals, winning two of them. Stonewall likely will need a big game from Wake Forest-bound junior forward Nicole Floyd.
Wakefield boys vs. John Marshall, 8:45 p.m.
Check out Brandon Parker’s feature story today on Wakefield senior guard Khory Moore, a former class clown who is serious about the Warriors challenging for a state title.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY (if you need to stay local)
Theodore Roosevelt at Coolidge, 8 p.m.
Johnnie Shuler and the Rough Riders split regular season games with Coolidge and now meet again in the DCIAA final. Extra credit if you can name the three presidents who served between Roosevelt and Coolidge…William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding.