West Potomac junior Danea Mackey dribbled out the closing seconds of Friday’s Gunston District tournament championship game, waited for the final buzzer to sound, and then headed over to celebrate with her teammates.
But before the standout guard could immerse herself in the surrounding jubilation, she first had to recover from a collision with sophomore Katherine Mazzoccoli that sent Mackey down to the floor.
However, with the Wolverines having captured their first district title in nearly three decades, it would take more than a fall on the hardwood to stop the celebration.
“It was just like, my body hurts, but I don’t care,” Mackey said. “We’re going to celebrate.”
The West Potomac girls’ basketball team captured the Gunston District championship – and the program’s first district title since 1992 – with a 61-44 victory over T.C. Williams on Friday at West Potomac High School.
Seven straight T.C. points cut the West Potomac lead to 46-42 early in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines responded with a 15-0 run in the final 5 minutes to secure the win.
After the game, West Potomac players and coaches posed for pictures with the Gunston District champions banner before taking turns climbing a ladder to cut off a piece of the net for a keepsake.
“I was telling the kids when they were standing there, I said, enjoy this,” West Potomac head coach Brian Colligan said. “I didn’t want them to rush off the court. It’s been since 1992 since the school won a girls’ district championship. We’re going to enjoy every moment of this.”
Junior guard Caroline Eby had been looking forward the net-cutting for quite some time.
“I’ve been dreaming about that since I was a little kid,” Eby said. “When I was younger, seeing all the higher schoolers do it and it’s been something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time. It was surreal to do it.
In a matchup of the district’s top two seeds, it was No. 2 T.C. Williams that started strong, taking an early seven-point lead with a 10-0 run. The Titans led by as many as eight on three separate occasions, and ended the opening quarter with a 17-13 advantage.
T.C. led 24-20 in the second quarter before top-seeded West Potomac started to take control. The Wolverines closed the half with a 14-0 run, including four 3-pointers.
Freshman guard Mary Prater’s 3-pointer with 2:02 remaining in the first half gave West Potomac a 26-24 advantage and the Wolverines would lead for the remainder of the contest.
Eby knocked down a 3-pointer in the final minute of the second quarter, giving West Potomac a 34-24 lead it would take into halftime.
“At first, we were kind of, I guess, frantic in our offense and then we started to calm down,” Eby said. “When I hit that 3, we definitely pulled together, got the whole team hype and we just continued it into the second half.”
West Potomac led by 11 early in the fourth quarter, but a 7-0 T.C. run, capped by an Amor Harris bucket, cut the Wolverine advantage to 46-42.
With 4:48 remaining, West Potomac’s Prater snapped the T.C. run – and started a streak of 15 straight points for the Wolverines – with a 3-pointer in the right corner, in front of the West Potomac bench.
Prater finished with four 3-pointers.
“It’s funny because we all know Mary’s a special player and she’s going to do a lot of damage in this district for the next three years,” Colligan said. “Great kid, great family, and she just works hard. Obviously, one of the best shooters, in my opinion, in the area, clearly. She’s only going to get better. … She’s a huge part of what’s going on.”
Prater tied for the team lead with 17 points.
“That’s how she is,” Eby said. “People don’t even understand how good she is yet.”
West Potomac sophomore Samantha Uhrin also finished with 17 points.
“In my opinion, she’s probably the most underrated player in – not even the district,” Colligan said. “She was honorable mention all-district. This kid is tearing it up. She’s a rebounding machine. … She really hasn’t played the game all that long. … She’s a freakish athlete. She’s a special player.”
Mackey finished with 15 points, Eby totaled eight and senior Annie Terwilliger added four.
Mackey was named Gunston District Tournament Most Valuable Player. Eby and Prater were named to the all-tournament team.
West Potomac is the No. 2 seed in the Region 6C tournament and earned a first-round bye. The Wolverines will host the winner of No. 7 Hayfield and No. 10 Justice in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
West Potomac celebrated a district title Friday night, but the Wolverines know there is more work to be done.
“I think, us, as a team, as a whole, we understand that once we accomplish something, there’s another step,” Mackey said. “There’s always another step. We’re always climbing that ladder.”
Wolverine boys lose heartbreaker
West Potomac head coach David Houston III walked onto the court, emphatically signaling that the shot shouldn’t count, while Director of Student Activities Aaron Helmick motioned for Wolverine fans to stay back.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the gym, T.C. Williams fans emptied from the bleachers and onto the court, celebrating what appeared to be a banner-winning buzzer-beater.
The West Potomac boys’ basketball team struggled at the offensive end for the majority of Friday’s Gunston District Tournament championship game against T.C. Williams. Whether it was the result of the Titans’ stifling defense, or simply a rough shooting night, the Wolverines’ point production – both in the paint and from the perimeter – was limited.
But just when West Potomac got the boost it needed – a game-tying bucket from Colby Dessaure with less than 10 seconds remaining – TC answered in dramatic fashion, crushing the Wolverines’ hopes of a fourth district championship in five years.
TC guard Torrence Horton knocked down a jumper at the buzzer to give the Titans a 44-42 victory and the Gunston District title on Friday at West Potomac High School.
As T.C. fans stormed the court, West Potomac coaches were adamant Horton’s shot came after the buzzer. Moments later, however, it was announced that the bucket would count.
After the game, Houston said he thought the ball was still in Horton’s hand when the buzzer sounded. Houston said he tried to talk to the officials, but they did not respond.
“Give [T.C.] credit for making the shot,” Houston said. “I can’t take anything away from their players. The kid made the shot.”
The loss means no banner for the Wolverines and no first-round bye in the Region 6C tournament. West Potomac is the No. 5 seed and will host No. 12 Woodson in the opening round at 7 p.m. on Monday.
Friday marked the fifth consecutive season West Potomac played in its respective district championship game. The Wolverines took home Patriot titles in 2016 and 2017, and the Gunston crown in 2019.
Trying for back-to-back championships and four in five years, West Potomac struggled on offense, but managed to hold a lead at the end of each of the first three quarters. In the fourth, however, Horton scored nine of his game-high 16 points to help edge the Wolverines.
West Potomac failed to score more than 12 points in a single quarter and had just four players finish with more than two points. Sophomore guard Jackson Mayo led the team with 13 points, including all three of the Wolverines’ 3-pointers. Jack Fricka and Dessaure each scored 10 points and Adrien Hunter added seven.
“You’ve got to give your opponent credit if you’re not shooting the ball well,” Houston said. “I’ll give them credit. Their game plan was to put pressure on us and try to force us into tougher, difficult shots. I’ll give them credit with that. I thought we had good looks and didn’t make them.”
Defense and hustle were enough to give West Potomac a chance.
A bucket by Fricka gave the Wolverines an 11-6 advantage at the end of one. T.C. opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run, but West Potomac eventually regained the lead when Mayo buried a 3-pointer in the final minute of the first half, putting the Wolverines up 19-17 at halftime.
The Titans opened the second half on an 8-2 run, but again found themselves trailing after West Potomac guard Bradley Harden knocked down a pair of free throws with 7.8 seconds left in the third, putting the Wolverines up 31-30.
“Giving up 44 points … should win you games,” Houston said. “We average 62 here at home. We had a starter that didn’t hit a shot. I give them credit. They played hard. I thought my guys played hard; we just didn’t make shots.”
Now the Wolverines (17-6) need to find a way to overcome the disappointment of Friday’s defeat.
“This team, we’ve always played together, we’ve known each other for a long time,” Fricka said. “I think we’ve just got to stay together, stay close, just remember we’ve got larger goals, bigger aspirations. This one hurts. Obviously, you want to win the district championship on your own floor, but there’s two more possible tournaments – at least one that we’re in right now. We’ve got a chance to win that one. We’re just taking it one game at a time right now, trying to stay together, work together.”
Houston said he’s confident his experienced team can get back on track.
“I’ve got veterans,” Houston said. “We’ve got nine seniors. They’ll bounce back. They’ve been resilient their whole careers to get to this point. A lot of people didn’t expect us to be at this point, anyway, or to have this many wins, or to win the regular season or to beat all the teams we’ve beaten. … I’m resilient, my kids are resilient, we’ll be tough to beat in the next tournament.”
All-Gunston District Tournament teams
- Danea Mackey (MVP), West Potomac
- Caroline Eby, West Potomac
- Mary Prater, West Potomac
- Lizzy Lujan-Gonzales, Mount Vernon
- Jane Elkins, Annandale
- Kendall Dunham, Hayfield
- Amor Harris, T.C. Williams
- N’Jya Hopkins, T.C. Williams
- Ricardo Ross (MVP), T.C. Williams
- Daejhon White, Mount Vernon
- Ryan Adams, Annandale
- David King, Hayfield
- Torrence Horton, T.C. Williams
- Takeo Carpenter, T.C. Williams
- Colby Dessaure, West Potomac
- Bradley Harden, West Potomac
Edison boys win, Edison girls lose
The Edison beat Wakefield by 20 points to run away with the National District title Friday night, while the Edison girls fell to Marshall in the first game of the championship doubleheader on Franconia Road.
The Edison girls will host Robinson at 7 p.m. Monday in the first round of the regional tournament. The Edison boys will face either Hayfield or Justice on Tuesday.