After superb season, no regrets for Episcopal

After superb season, no regrets for Episcopal

As Episcopal head coach Jim Fitzpatrick left the basketball court after a 62-40 loss to Benedictine Friday night, there was no disappointment, just pride. 
Days later he still wont let any lingering sense of bitterness or regret cloud his memories of a near perfect season for the boarding school. Despite falling just short of a shot at winning the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state tournament championship, theres too much to be happy about, he said. 
I was proud, Fitzpatrick said. I was really proud of my team. That was really what I felt. That was the overwhelming feeling. Disappointment is something all coaches feel when you lose, but I wouldnt allow myself to feel disappointed about what this group has done.
Led by senior guard Sadiq Abubakar, the Maroon vaulted onto the regional basketball scene during the 2010-11 regular season. With a 25-3 record, Episcopal earned accolades from the Washington Post, which ranked the team among the areas top squads week after week, and racked up a steady string of wins against talented opponents. 
But a long and tough season, which included three games against local basketball powerhouse Landon, took its toll on the Maroon. By the time they strode onto the court to start the 9 p.m. game against Benedictine, they were fatigued and hurt, Fitzpatrick said.  
I think that our kids were so excited and ready to play, but we just didnt have the pop to play well for 32 minutes, he said. When youre playing quality teams, you have to be hitting on all cylinders.
Abubakar, who eventually succumbed to a nagging ankle injury he received during the Sleepy Thompson tournament, is understandably less than pleased with the outcome. Still, like his coach, Abubakar wants to focus on the good times.
I didnt feel great about [losing], Abubakar said. My ankle was bad and I was just trying to make sure I was doing all I could to help my teammates push through it. Im just taking away the good parts of the whole season.
For Abubakar, who will play for Hamilton College in New York next year, that includes the friendship forged with his teammates on and off the court and the guiding hands of his coaches. 
He plans on studying information technology at Hamilton and if he does graduate with a shot at playing basketball professionally, hell have his coaches to thank for it.
Coming over here, I didnt know much about how the game was being played here, Abubakar said. Its more competitive and you play against really good athletes and Im just lucky I had coaches who saw me through everything. Everything worked out fine. I learned a lot on and off the basketball court.
Though Abubakar is departing for college, Fitzpatrick will retain rising stars Kethan Savage and Arnaud Adala-Moto next season. While its too soon to say who will play prominent roles in the 2011-12 incarnation of the Maroon, Fitzpatrick is confident Episcopal will field another solid squad.  
Sadiq is certainly the most visible senior we have, but Ive got seven seniors right now. More than half of my team will be graduating and moving on, Fitzpatrick said. Even though we have some incredible pieces that we are graduating, Savage and Adalo-Moto are two of the best players in the area and theyre seniors next year. Well find different pieces that can fit into our system next year.