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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
FairfaxStrong defense was Madison's primary focus

Strong defense was Madison’s primary focus

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Three different Madison Warhawks discussed how much they enjoy playing defense during a post-game press conference following the basketball team’s victory in the March 11 state-tournament championship game.

Madison (27-2) won that Virginia High School League Class 6 girls title contest, 38-29, over the Osbourn Park Yellow Jackets at the Siegel Center in Richmond. The 29 points were the second fewest the losing team ever scored in the Class 6 or Group AAA state final.

That meager point total validated Madison’s season-long goal and performance of playing tough defense, when the Warhawks allowed an average of just 32.1 points per game.

“Defense has been our No. 1 focus since the start of the season,” Madison senior guard Alayna Arnolie said.


Her twin sister and backcourt mate Grace Arnolie agreed. “Playing defense is fun. If we focus on defense, our offense will come.”

Much of Madison’s offense has come as a result of steals on the defensive end by the Arnolie sisters, which were converted into transition baskets. The two combined for six steals in the state final, an accomplishment that was a regular routine throughout the season for the steal queens.

Madison senior forward Mia Chapman had four blocked shots in the state final, with senior forward Kiera Kohler having three.

“Playing defense is fun,” Chapman said. “It makes our offense easier.”

Madison’s defense was greedy and smothering all season long, but especially in its eight postseason games. In those contests, the Warhawks allowed an average of just 30.3 points per outing, yielding a single-game high of only 34, with a low of 27 twice.

In all 29 games, Madison opponents were held to fewer than 30 points 11 times, with lows of only 12 and 15 points. The stingy defensive play began from the opening game of the 2021-22 campaign, when the Warhawks allowed the Marshall Statesmen to score just 24 points.

The most single-game points the Warhawks allowed were 53 and 54, coming in their two losses. After yielding 53 in a loss to Paul VI Catholic, Madison responded with 19 straight victories to close the season, with 36 points the most given up in any of those contests.

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