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The Paul VI Catholic girls basketball team topped off its best season ever with a 73-53 championship win against Liberty Christian to claim a seventh-consecutive Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association title last Saturday at the Wakefield School in The Plains.

Senior guard Marlena Tremba led the way with 24 points for the Lady Panthers, while Ariana Freeman put up 21. Paul VI (29-4, 15-3 WCAC) stormed through their three games in the VISAA tournament, finishing the competition with a 32-point average margin of victory.

Paul VI coach Scott Allen credited his team’s triumph to a talented group of players led by seven decorated seniors. He also pointed to the preparation his team received throughout the season by competing in the WCAC, the toughest girls basketball conference in the country.

“We were playing against the best competition you can play against,” Allen said. “As a competitor that’s the ultimate challenge that you want. You want to play against the very best every night, and that’s what we have in the WCAC.”

The Panthers finished second in the regular season and third overall in the WCAC, narrowly missing out on their first appearance in the conference final after losing a tight game to Good Counsel, 55-49. A school-record 29 wins, fueled by a 23-0 start to the season, helped Paul VI achieve a No. 6 national ranking by USA Today earlier this year.

“We made steps to put our program out there nationally for schools to look at our players as people that they would want to recruit,” Allen said. “It’s very exciting for our program to take steps to be not only one of the top programs locally, but hopefully we could be one of the top programs nationally, as well.”

neilerson@fairfaxtimes.com