The taller Loudoun County Raiders came up short in the quarterfinals of the Virginia Division 4 state girls basketball tournament to a quicker team from Courtland, falling 58-44 at the Siegel Center in Richmond.
“We didn’t have an easy road,” said the Raiders’ second-year coach Derek Fisher after guiding County to a 21-9 record and the school’s third berth in the tourney over the last four years.
“We came in with eight losses and had to bounce back again and again. This team kept coming back.”
“It’s definitely sad having our season end like this,” senior Katrina Kirby said. “But we know we left it all out on the court and did everything we could, so there are no regrets.”
On the big stage in downtown Richmond, the undefeated Cougars (29-0) showed why they are undefeated, turning a halftime tie into an 11-point advantage into the final quarter.
“Loudoun County matched up with us extremely well,” Courtland coach J.T. Nino said, noting that the Raiders were the tallest team his squad had seen all year. “It was a great challenge defending them. In the second half we went up-tempo.”
Turnovers plagued County throughout. Courtland was credited with 21 points resulting from Raider miscues, compared with four points off turnovers for County.
Janae McNeal, Region I’s Division 4 Player Of the Year, accounted for 23 points, most after halftime. The junior guard bothered her counterparts from County, getting steals for fast-break chances.
Courtland emphasized offensive boards in the second half, rebounding 14 of their own missed shots. The Cougars used those second chances to shoot 63 times, versus 39 shot attempts for the Raiders.
Owing to early points by post players Kirby and sophomore Maggie Phillips, County enjoyed its largest lead of six with 2:17 left in the second quarter.
“The key, I thought, was in the first half when we had a little bit of a lead,” Fisher said. “They did a nice job of getting back in it, tying it up at halftime, and that set the tone for them.”
Most of the third quarter was taken up by a 14-2 Courtland run as County found offensive sets difficult to initiate.
“They really pressured us so it was kind of hard to get into our offense,” senior guard Alex Lapple said. “There were mismatches but whenever we turned to face, they were pressuring us.”
The Raiders made 41 percent of their shots while the Cougars converted on 33 percent. Casey Cummings led County with 13 rebounds while Kirby brought down five.
Lapple was one of four Raider seniors to put up points on the night. Fisher complimented his outgoing senior class.
“We had six seniors who, not just basketball-wise, conducted themselves in a manner we’re very proud of here,” he said.
Courtland 58, Loudoun County 44
LC: Kirby 18, Cummings 9, Phillips 9, Lapple 5, Linnemann 3
C: McNeal 23, Trent 11, Hairston 8, Fennell 7, Bradley 5, Amrhine 4
3-pointers: LC 3 (Cummings, Lapple, Linnemann); C 2 (McNeal 2)
Free throws: LC (9 of 10); C (16 of 19)
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