Holding a 5-4 record so far, 2-1 in their division, the Quince Orchard Lady Cougars basketball team, coached by Bobby Bishop and led by Senior Captains Paige McNeal and Makayla Wright, along with Junior Captain Alex Boggs, have high expectations for their 2020 season. “We want to get a banner in our gym,” Wright said.
Their season started on Dec. 10 with a 51-42 win against Walter Johnson High School, followed by another 51-42 win against Walt Whitman High School. In their game against Walter Johnson, the team was led by Anaya Badmus with 12 points, McNeal with 11 points and Israel McKenzie with 10 points. Their win over Whitman was their first in 11 years, led by Wright with 22 points and Badmus with 15 points. The next two games were hard-fought losses to Poolesville High School (52-47) and Tuscarora High School (49-38). In their Poolesville game, the team was led by Badmus with 14 points, and in their Tuscarora game, the team was led by Badmus and Boggs with 12 points each.
Following their return from break, their first conference game of the season was against Richard Montgomery High School; the Cougars pulled off a 62-49 win led by Badmus with 20 points, McNeal with 14 points and Wright with 13 points. Montgomery Blair High School gave the Cougars a tough game, defeating them 52-47, led by Wright and McNeal each with 12 points. The next two games were conference games, a win against Gaithersburg High School (65-47) and a loss to Clarksburg High School (56-49). Wright and Boggs (12 points each) led the Cougars in their Gaithersburg game, and Boggs (10 points) and Katie Dunda (15 points) led in the Clarksburg game.
The Lady Cougars concluded their 2018-19 season with a disappointing loss to Richard Montgomery in the first round of the playoffs. McNeal described the frustration as a reason to be “motivated” even more this season. The team looks to improve from last year’s 15-7 record.
“My goal,” Coach Bishop said, “is to have the best record we possibly can for the school, win our division, and we always want to go to states.”
The girls’ basketball team has yet to win a state championship in the school’s history, and they are one of the few teams missing a banner in the school gym. “I feel like we are a stronger unit than we were last year,” Wright said. “Everyone has the same common goal. We want to get somewhere.”
A big and important change this season that has given the team a boost is chemistry and team bonding. “We spend a lot of time together on the court as well as doing a lot of team dinners,” said Boggs.
Earlier in the season, the girls traveled to a Hood College basketball game to support alumni Paige Copenhaver and Destini Kelley, and they plan to attend more as the season goes on to support more of their previous teammates.
In addition to bonding, another noticeable difference between the Cougars and other teams is their ability to get up and down the court, which Bishop believes is the “key because for the style we play, you have to be in good shape.”
The coaching staff is also an important aspect of the team’s success. “They’re always supporting us, helping us with our injuries, and making sure we are playing to the best of our ability,” said Boggs. Bishop was previously the junior varsity coach for seven years and is now enjoying his second year with varsity. The varsity assistant coaches are Charles Kraftover and Victor Sanders. Kraftover has been helping the team for five years while this is Sanders’s first year. Nicole Jeffers was Bishop’s assistant on junior varsity for three years before being promoted to head junior varsity coach after Bishop. Jeffers has now been the junior varsity head coach for two years, assisted by Roger Jones. The coaching team is definitely a big source of encouragement and motivation for the Cougars.
Although the season still has about time remaining, the community is already beginning to dread the absence of the four seniors next year. Starters McNeal and Wright, along with Mackenzie Ferguson and Josie Juhring will be sincerely missed in the future. Besides being a powerhouse on the court, Wright is known amongst the team for being energetic and able to put a smile on anyone’s face; she enjoys playing for the team and will miss being the “energizer bunny” at practice. McNeal can be heard encouraging her teammates during practices and games and will miss the “intensity” of it all. Ferguson plays her heart out in every game, and Juhring can be found at the end of starting lineup giving out handshakes.
To keep updated with the team, you can find them on Instagram @qogirlsbasketball and on Twitter @qohsgirlsbball.
— Kendall Lumsden