Georgetown Visitation’s historic upset of Sidwell Friends earns ISL title


Georgetown Visitation’s players sprinted toward center court. As the final buzzer sounded in Sunday afternoon’s Independent School League championship game and their classmates spilled onto the court, wiping away tears seemed unreasonable.

Unimpeded, they let the drops fall down their faces.

Sunday’s 60-57 victory over top-ranked Sidwell Friends — in an overflowing and at times deafening Holton-Arms gym in Bethesda — was the biggest win in their high school careers and the type of upset that will not soon be forgotten. With a raucous second-half comeback, the No. 3 Cubs (23-5) captured an unlikely ISL AA title and stamped an asterisk on one of the greatest two-year runs that a D.C. area high school basketball team has put together.

“I’m overwhelmed and overjoyed,” said senior Simone Lewis, who finished with 12 points. “We’ve been working toward this for so long. We did it.”

As impressive as the Cubs have looked, Georgetown Visitation Coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged beforehand that his team would have to play a perfect game to beat Sidwell (26-3). The Quakers, ranked second in the nation by ESPN, hadn’t lost to a local opponent since March 2020 and had already bested his team twice this season, including a 17-point decision just five days earlier.

But there was never doubt this game was winnable. The Cubs had trudged through and often won against difficult opponents from across the East Coast. They had also taken Sidwell to overtime in January. With 14 straight ISL titles before Sidwell snapped the streak last season, there was plenty of precedent.

There was comfort, too, as the underdog.

“We came into this game knowing we had nothing to lose,” said senior Fadima Tall, who led the team in scoring during the season and finished with 13 points Sunday. “The pressure wasn’t on us.”

The Cubs hit on each of their simple goals. They hung with Sidwell on the boards. They moved the ball. On defense, they forced the Quakers into uncharacteristic mistakes.

After the first quarter, they trailed by two. Though their deficit reached 11 at halftime, the game never felt out of hand. Even when Tall sat in foul trouble, they weathered the storm. Four Cubs finished in double figures.

“Everybody did exactly what they needed to do,” Tall said.

In the third quarter, they made their push, outscoring the Quakers 22-8 to pull ahead 43-40. When the Quakers and Duke commit Jadyn Donovan (22 points) went on a run of their own midway through the fourth quarter, the Cubs responded, with a reverse layup from Lewis putting the Cubs back ahead with three minutes left.

During several timeouts in the final minutes, some Georgetown Visitation players took deep breaths and closed their eyes to calm down.

And then they never let go.

“They had a resolve that they were going to do something special this weekend, and they did it,” McCarthy said. “That was the most exhilarating game I’ve ever been a part of.”

Flint Hill wins ISL A title

In the ISL A title game that followed, Flint Hill beat host ­Holton-Arms, 60-50, to capture the third league championship in school history. The Huskies (21-4), who exited in the tournament semifinals last year and have just two seniors on the roster, saw significant improvement from last season’s 12-9 record under first-year coach Sedrick Winston.

On Sunday, senior Lyndsey Costigan and sophomore Raigan McCalla led the way with 24 points apiece in one of the team’s best offensive performances this season.

“I don’t know how many people outside our locker room — or even everybody in our locker room — really expected this at the beginning of the year,” Winston said. “They just got better and better as the season went on. This group is really special.”

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