At last. The rafters and walls inside the gymnasium at Yorktown High School will no longer be void of a girls basketball championship banner or team accomplishment listing of any kind.
For the first time in school history, the girls team won a district tournament title.
The top-seeded Yorktown Patriots (19-4) defeated the third-seeded McLean Highlanders, 45-36, the night of Feb. 18 in the Liberty District tournament championship game.
The victory was Yorktown’s third of the season over McLean, all close decision.
The Patriots were 2-0 in the tourney after a first-round bye, topping the fourth-seeded Herndon Hornets, 62-42, in the semifinals. Both playoff games were at Yorktown.
Yorktown had last played in a district-tournament final in the 2011-12 season, losing to Mount Vernon, 66-47, in that National District contest. Since moving to the Liberty District for the 2015-16 season, the Patriots enjoyed little success in the league tournament until this season.
“We begin every practice this season, while we are exercising, looking up in those rafters. We don’t say anything, we just look up there and don’t see anything we want to see,” Yorktown coach Devaughn Drayton said in reference to the void. “For us, we were playing for history, and we enjoyed that.”
In addition to winning the tournament, one of Yorktown’s goals this season was to host district-tournament playoff games, including the title contest. Now that the Patriots have done that, the team next gets to host a first-round 6D North Region-tournament contest, as a squad that has won 13 of 14 games, including a 13-1 mark against district rivals, since the high-school sports season in Arlington was paused two weeks to start the new year because of COVID concerns.
“We did not let the pause affect us,” Drayton said. “Our captains [Emma Nelsen, Ana Bournigal and Molly Kaufman] did a good job keeping the team together.”
In the tourney-semifinal win over Herndon, Olivia Stafford had 16 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals for Yorktown. Ana Bournigal had 12 points, nine rebounds and two steals. Asha Goodwin scored 10 to go with three boards, three assists and two steals. Emma Nelsen scored six and had three rebounds, and Taylor Chase had five points, five rebounds and three blocks.
Those same players led the way against McLean in the final, with the Patriots’ defense holding the Highlanders to their fewest points in a game since Dec. 17. Yorktown led 13-7 at the end of the first quarter, 20-15 at halftime and 35-24 entering the fourth period. Two free throws and a steal by Goodwin in the final 70 seconds helped ice the victory.
Nelsen had 10 points, four rebounds and two assists. Bournigal scored eight and had eight boards and two assists. Chase (five rebounds), Stafford (three steals, three assists) and Goodwin (three assists, two steals) all scored seven each. Sofia Tran and Helene Lydon scored three each.
Defense has been a strong point for Yorktown this season. The Patriots allowed just 36.5 points per game in their 13 district wins.
“We wanted to wear on McLean defensively as the game went and limited their runs,” Drayton said. “That determines the outcome of a game.”
Despite being the top seed, Yorktown had just one first-team all-district player in Bournigal, who Drayton and his players thought should have been the league’s Player of the Year. What they thought was a snub, Drayton said definitely motivated Bournigal and his team for the tournament.
“You can best believe they were motivated and they got the most important thing,” Drayton said.
Chase, Nelson and Stafford all made second-team all-district, with freshman Stafford chosen Rookie of the Year. Drayton was picked the Coach of the Year. Bournigal also was chosen first-team all-region with Drayton also the region Coach of the Year.
NOTES: Yorktown last won 20 games in a season in the 2007-08 campaign, finishing 20-7 and losing to W.T. Woodson in the region-tourney semifinals . .. Drayton is a 1994 graduate of Wakefield High School in Arlington, where he played three season of varsity boys basketball under former coach Bob Veldran.