By James Cullum (Courtesy photo)
The T.C. Williams girls basketball season came to a bitter end on February 22, as the Oakton Cougars handed the Titans a 50-44 defeat in the quarterfinals of the 6A North regional tournament.
It was a tough loss for the four-year reigning Patriot Conference champions, who ended their 2016-2017 season at 24-2 with their second-straight loss in the regional quarterfinals. The team will not make the state tournament.
Lady Titans coach Kesha Walton said that despite the loss, she is proud of her team.
“They never quit, never gave up and it showed in that game,” she said. “No. 30 [Kailyn Fee] on their team got hot. … We lost composure in the end with unforced turnovers at crucial points in the game, but they still kept fighting.”
The Titans and Cougars ended the first quarter tied at 11, and by halftime T.C. led by 2 points. But the Lady Titans scored only 6 points in the third quarter and couldn’t match Oakton’s 22-point burst in the fourth, led by Cougar senior guard Fee, who scored a game-high 28 points.
T.C. senior Bhrandi Crenshaw led her team with 19 points, followed by sophomore Sasha Bates with 10 points. Karamee Copeland scored 4.
Oakton, whose record now sits at 24-4, went on to win the tournament by defeating Potomac High School 73-55. The Cougars will face Ocean Lakes in Virginia Beach Friday in their first game in the state tournament.
Sophomore T.C. point guard Trinity Palacio already had three personal fouls going into the third quarter and fouled out with just over three minutes remaining in the game. She said she wants to use last week’s loss as motivation to get even better next year.
“We held the lead most of the game, but we just got to the final minutes and we couldn’t keep up with their three-point shooting,” Palacio said. “I don’t want to have the same feeling again next year. When the opportunity comes around, I will be more aware, more aggressive. I just have to step up when my team needs me.”
Palacio, who averaged 14 points per game this season, and is one of the best players on the team, made 4 free throws, but no field goals in the quarterfinal.
“The last couple of minutes we’ve just got to keep our heads in the game,” she said.
The Lady Titans’ high-pressure defense was its number one offense, Walton said. Throughout the season, it contributed to multiple 30-plus point victories against schools throughout the Patriot Conference. The team’s only other loss this season was on December 28 against Ridge View High School of Columbia, S.C.
The Titans will lose four seniors to graduation this year, while eight players on the roster will return next season.
“We’re losing one of our best defensive players this year [in senior forward Deja Hamilton], so I have to step up my game and improve my free throws,”
Walton said she will have players work on shooting and watch tape together in the offseason.
“We have a very young team,” she said. “And I have a great group of girls who overcame adversity, because we were undefeated in our conference. And at 24-2, that means that other teams are going to be coming after us.”