No. 19 Centreville marched into No. 17 Oakton on Friday night with the firm intent of knocking off the Cougars for the first time since January of 1995. As winners of 14 of their first 15 games this season, why think otherwise.
After the game tipped off, however, the Wildcats settled for outside shots, missing their first seven attempts, and quickly fell behind in a 65-48 loss that enabled Oakton to continue its extended domination in the Virginia AAA Concorde District series.
Centreville junior point guard Jenna Green, not yet born the last time the Wildcats prevailed over Oakton, said the Wildcats’ problems were more the team name on the opponent’s jersey than any one player. But the inside presence of Oakton center Elizabeth Manner was a deterrent to the Wildcats dribble-drive offense, and the 6-foot-1 senior owned the offensive end.
Manner’s final stat line on a 37-point night: 10 of 19 from the floor with a three-pointer, 16 of 19 from the free throw line, 14 rebounds and zero fouls.
“We came out scared in the first half,” said first-year Centreville Coach Tom Watson, who was “shocked” at his team’s reluctance in the opening minutes. “We were afraid to penetrate. That’s not our game. [Manner] intimidated us. This was a ‘D’ game for us.”
Centreville missed 24 of 30 first-half shots and trailed by 12 entering the third quarter. Four times that period the Wildcats pulled within five on baskets from four different players.
Shortly thereafter, Manner scored four consecutive field goals for the Cougars, one off an assist, one on a nice spin move, another on a putback and the last on a long jumper to make it a 14-point game.
Senior guard Helen Roberts added 11 points for Oakton (14-2, 4-0). Sophomore guard Lindsey Abed, making her second start, had to handle more of the point guard duty with the Cougars missing players to illness. She had eight assists and eight rebounds on a night when the greaseboard in her team’s locker room stressed “Tradition, Defense, Intelligence, Discipline.”
“I’m very proud of the way the kids played tonight mainly because we took the next step that we have to take,” Oakton Coach Fred Priester said. “It’s never easy the second time around [the district], and then you’ve got to play somebody a third time. This is just the first skirmish in a long war.”
Green led Centreville (14-2, 3-1) with 12 points and nine assists and senior forward Tori Collar scored 10 second-half points. Oakton outrebounded the Wildcats, 38-19.
“Next time,” Green said, “we’ll definitely be ready.”