Walt Whitman High School girls basketball coach Pete Kenah said he knew in mid-December he had a team capable of reaching the state championships.
The Vikings held visiting Paint Branch and its potent backcourt to 31 points in a Dec. 17 win and Kenah knew the team could match up defensively with any team. After a February loss at the buzzer to two-time defending 4A State Champion Gaithersburg, he said his players knew they likely would have to shut Gaithersburg down in a playoff rematch.
“The girls to a player said that they wanted to be the ones to knock them out,” Kenah said. “I was so impressed by that.”
On Friday in the 4A West Region Final, the Vikings did, holding Gaithersburg to one point in the first quarter on the way to a 46-31 win that clinched a spot in Thursday’s 4A State Semifinal game against Baltimore Polytechnic at UMBC. Gaithersburg had knocked Whitman out of the playoffs in each of the last three years.
“Finally is the right word,” Kenah said. “They went on a run that I don’t know if the county will see again.”
The Vikings rely on defense and balanced scoring. No player averages more than nine points per game.
Seniors Dani Okon, Kim Durante, Brittany Fleck, juniors Maddie Cannon, Avery Witt, sophomore Nicole Fleck and freshman Marie Hatch all contribute.
“This team is so special because we don’t have a star,” Kenah said. “It’s literally a different player every night. In an era of me, me, me they are entirely selfless.”
The semifinal is set for 3 p.m. on Thursday at UMBC’S RAC Arena. The finals are set for 3 p.m. on Saturday.