GDS’ varsity women’s basketball team lost to Potomac at home in a heartbreaking Independent School League A Division championship game on Feb. 27 after a historically dominant season. The score was 60–42.
It was fitting for GDS to play Potomac in the tournament final, since the two teams tied to be regular season co-champions of the ISL’s lower division. (The league awards separate banners for the regular season and playoffs.)
GDS’ only ISL regular season loss came against Potomac early in the year, but the Hoppers came back to beat the Panthers in a thrilling overtime match on Feb. 10. The team’s excellent season was highlighted by a crushing 71–3 victory against Madeira.
Many of the GDS players left the court in tears. “I appreciate their heart throughout the season,” senior Sofia Greenfield, a co-captain of the team, told the Bit after the game. “We just didn’t come out with the win today.”
A large crowd of GDS students, parents and faculty cheered the team on. Nearly all wore black clothes, as instructed by all-school emails from players the previous night. After the game, sophomore Samia Greene sent an email to the high school thanking the fans for coming. “We really appreciate all the support,” she wrote.
GDS started the championship game strong, ending the first quarter with the score tied at 11. However, a slew of fouls and missed shots left GDS trailing Potomac at halftime by a score of 24–18.
Though the Hoppers committed far fewer fouls in the second half than in the first, they were never able to consistently score baskets. Greenfield was among the team’s top scorers throughout the season, but Potomac’s defense was able to keep her at bay, forcing her to attempt to shoot numerous long-range three-pointers.
Potomac’s small but vocal crowd cheered through the second half, as the team’s efficient offense led them to victory. After committing numerous fouls in the first half, several Hoppers played less aggressive defense in the second half.
Potomac pulled ahead in the game’s third quarter, extending their lead to 44–25. Though GDS’ players never seemed to give up, the game was all but decided going into the final quarter, when Potomac cemented their victory.
GDS will play in the quarterfinals of the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) Class A tournament on Tuesday, March 1. They are ranked as the No. 1 seed in the tournament. (Sidwell Friends, whose women’s basketball team is the highest ranked in the country, is competing in the DCSAA’s higher-division tournament.)
“We’re going to definitely regroup tomorrow for practice,” Greenfield said. “But I feel like we’re going to get it together and take this loss and make it our fuel to win D.C States.”
Prior to the championship game, the ISL tournament’s semifinals came down to a nail-biting finish, with GDS defeating Flint Hill 56–50.
The Hoppers took the lead early in the game, finishing the first quarter with a 15–9 lead.
However, Flint Hill quickly took the momentum and lead in the second quarter, making the score 27-24. Much of Flint Hill’s success in the game’s first half came from drawing numerous fouls by GDS, especially from the defensive powerhouse sophomore Zania Socka.
“We had some mental lapses during the first half,” head coach Pam Stanfield said in an interview after the semifinal. “We got in foul trouble, just making mistakes.” During the halftime break, Stanfield encouraged the team to focus on the next play, rather than harping on previous errors.
The team came back from halftime strong, immediately regaining a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. The team’s resurgence was led by sophomore Madi Moore, who scored 12 points in the second half.
In the first game of the tournament, GDS played against Madeira, which had been winless in league competitions. GDS’ excellent first quarter was highlighted by Greene, who scored seven of GDS’ 23 points.
Greene thrived for the entire quarterfinal: “She did a great job as our defensive leader,” Stanfield said. “And she played well on the offensive end.”
GDS did not relent against Madeira in the second half, going on to win the game 63–11.
Looking back on the tournament after losing the final, Greenfield said, “This is the best team I’ve ever played with.”
When asked about what made this team special compared to previous years’ teams, Greenfield added, “These girls actually care and wanted to win.”
CLARIFICATION (March 6): An earlier version of this story misleadingly said that Sidwell Friends’ women’s basketball team would not participate in the DCSAA tournament; the team did not compete in the same division as GDS, Class A, but did compete in the DCSAA’s higher division, Class AA.