For years, the gap between the Cubs and the rest of the league was wide. Last season, Sidwell beat Visitation during the regular season for the first time in 13 years. The Cubs still surged to another ISL title.
Thursday night in Georgetown, the Quakers proved that win wasn’t a one-off, earning a convincing 64-58 victory.
“As we continue to win and continue to get better, it’s about keeping focus,” sophomore guard Kiki Rice said. “We know we have talent, and we think we can beat a lot of the teams we play. But the focus has to always be on development.”
Despite their history, Sidwell (18-3, 8-1 ISL AA) traveled to Visitation (11-8, 6-4) as the team to beat. Despite a roster that features no seniors and just one junior, the Quakers have quickly established themselves as one of the better programs in the D.C. area. Visitation, also young, has struggled with inconsistency.
Dudley arrived at Sidwell fresh off winning a Virginia Class 6 title with the Vikings and being named All-Met Coach of the Year. She replaced longtime coach Anne Renninger, who retired after 38 years at the helm. With such a young roster, the first thing Dudley aimed to do was establish a sense of commitment.
“The great part is that they’re like a blank canvas because they’re all so young,” she said. “The biggest thing we wanted to do was instill the work ethic necessary to win a championship. Be committed to being here.”
Dudley inherited a roster headlined by Rice. The dynamic guard finished with 25 points Thursday as the Quakers led for much of the afternoon.
The Cubs showed the most fight in the fourth quarter, cutting Sidwell’s lead to three multiple times. But the Quakers held them off, thanks in part to junior Blair Penn, who scored all eight of her points in the fourth.
“We have a culture with no hierarchy since everybody is an underclassman,” Penn said. “Everyone is together, and everyone has the mind-set that working hard is cool. Everyone has the mind-set just to win, win, win.”