With no season last year because of COVID, that made the current campaign a big question mark for the Potomac School Panthers, primarily because the squad had so many talented but tested team members with no varsity experience.
Those young players have grown up and proved themselves significantly and, as a result, have a 22-1 overall record and are now champions, to boot.
On Feb. 27, the girls high-school basketball team won the Independent School League A Division tournament championship by defeating host and No. 2 seed Georgetown Day School, 60-42, in the title game. The tourney crown came after Potomac School first earned the top seed with an 11-1 regular-season league mark.
The Panthers’ starting lineup includes two sophomores and two freshmen.
“These young players all have such competitive attitudes about them,” Potomac School head coach Mike Hutton said. “With them we felt we could be a top-three team in the ISL and compete for the title. I didn’t know if we could win so many games.”
In defeating Georgetown Day in the ISL final, the Panthers avenged their one loss this season, coming by a point a few days ago. The teams split two regular-season games.
In the tourney final, the lead seesawed until a three-pointer by senior starter Kayla Rolph gave the Panthers the lead for good at 19-18 with 3:09 left in the second quarter. Potomac School went on to lead 24-18 at halftime, then 44-25 after three periods.
“We did a good job mixing our defense this time and we added more options with more player movement on offense against their 3-2 zone defense,” Hutton said.
Potomac School shot 47 percent from the floor in the win by getting and making many layups and other high-percentage shots, and outrebounding Georgetown Day, 46-30.
Rolph had 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and a block. Freshman point guard Catherine Letendre had 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals for the Panthers. Freshman guard Zora Burrell had a season-high 12 points to go with eight steals, eight rebounds and five assists.
Freshman forward Skylar Giuliani added nine points, five rebounds and three assists; sophomore forward Zoe Myslewicz had nine rebounds and three points; sophomore Kerri Greene added four points, five rebounds and three assists off the bench; freshman Margit Crittenberger and senior Bunny Cameron each scored two; with sophomore Brooklyn Williams having two rebounds and sophomore Selma Elrefai credited with an assist.
The team’s roster includes just two seniors.
Potomac School was 2-0 in the tournament after a first-round bye. In the semifinals, the Panthers routed fifth-seeded St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, 66-27.
The Panthers last won the A Division tourney in back-to-back 22 win seasons in 2017 and 2018.
The Panthers now move on to play in the Division I private-school state tournament as the No. 6 seed.
* The Flint Hill Huskies were the third seed in the Independent School League A Division tourney, defeating No. 6-seed National Cathedral School in the first round, 66-20, then falling to Georgetown Day, 56-50, in the semis.
Flint Hill led in the semifinal, 27-24, at halftime and was within 49-48 late in the game. Georgetown Day made some clutch free throws in the final seconds and got a key offensive rebound and steal to help win the game.
* The seventh-seeded Madeira Snails were 0-1 in the Independent School League A Division tourney, losing to Georgetown Day, 63-11, in the first round.