For the past three seasons, the James Madison Girls’ Basketball Team has been the last one standing in the state of Virginia.
Head Coach Kirsten Stone’s Lady Warhawks captured their third consecutive state championship last March with a 38-29 win over Osbourn Park at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“Our first title was during the COVID season, so we were declared co-champions with Edison; the second was at home against Osbourn Park, so this was our first time getting the experience to go to Richmond and have the experience and our student population take a bus down to see us, so it was really a lot of fun,” Stone said.
It was the school’s fifth girls’ basketball championship, the first two coming in 1991 and 1993. Stone was a sophomore at Madison during the latter title. Now, entering this year, Stone’s team is a bit less experienced than it was a year before, graduating eight seniors, all of whom played roles during the incredible run.
“The girls returning have been on varsity for a few years, so they have had the experience, which helps,” Stone said.
So far, the team is 5-2, with both losses coming to private schools. Bishop O’Connell and Georgetown Visitation Prep. Stone uses those losses as teaching moments of discipline and technique.
“We lost to two private schools that are really strong programs; we play Visitation every year because they are so disciplined, and I like watching their film with our players, so they learn something from it,” Stone said.
Stone’s state championship squads consisted of talented athletes that had the right attitude and were willing to work on fundamentals both offensively and defensively. The mentality is shared by every member on the team from the upperclassmen to the newcomers
“The good thing about Madison is we breed a culture of wanting to do well and working hard, and it started with our eight seniors that graduated when they came in as freshmen. For example, we have a senior, Sarah Link, who has gotten a lot of playing time in all three state championships. She can play multiple positions and carries a lot of responsibility—the same with Kayla Dixon, a senior who started multiple games for us,” Stone said.
The Warhawks began this season with five straight wins, scoring 50 points in their first three games, including their win over Langley in a rematch of last year’s regional championship game. Despite losing two of their last three, the mindset has not changed.
Though Madison isn’t as experienced as last year, several players still on this year’s team have gone through the experience of winning a state championship and understanding what goes into making that dream a reality.
Additionally, like every sport, there will be a time when the girls hang up their shoes and begin a quest into the offseason of life beyond sports. Stone says she wants her kids to have fun during this experience and grow as young women.
Madison will be back in action on Jan. 7 when they go on the road to take on West Potomac before they return to their home court on Jan. 10 against district rival Chantilly.
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