Girls Basketball dominates down the stretch, falls to state runner-up Churchill in semifinals


Patrick Agustin

Freshman guard Katie Diao (30) knocks down a three in a regular season game versus Gaithersburg HS.

Danny Martella

The girls varsity basketball team blasted off into the playoffs and won their last 10 games of the regular season to close out their dominant 16-5 season. They started the season with a blowout win over Rockville 71-23, then a close win against Quince Orchard 44-31, before holding Watkins Mill to just nine points in their third win in a row. The girls then took close losses to Wootton, BCC and then an 18 point loss to Whitman. The Rockets kept their win rate just above 50% for the next five games, taking off with a win against Blair that would start their 10 game winning streak to carry them into playoffs. In those 10 games the girls won by an average of 22 points, outscored their opponents a total of 533 to 316, and averaged 53 points as a team per game. 

Along with the team’s success, Rockets head coach Michael Oakes hit the milestone of 100 career wins this season.

 “[It] was a great opportunity to reflect on all of the incredible athletes I’ve been able to coach during my time at RM,” Oakes said. 

His success continued as the season went on and the girls won their last nine regular season games and one playoff game. “Our 10-game winning streak reflects the growth of the team throughout the season. We never stopped improving individually or collectively, and that paid off during the second half of the season,” Oakes said. 

Before each game, Coach Oakes reminded his players to play hard and to try to control the game and for 16 games, the girls did just that. He capped off the season with his favorite memory from this year, the 40-30 playoff win against Whitman on Friday, Feb. 25. “The team played with so much resilience and determination,” Oakes said. “We just refused to lose,” 

This year’s girls team had a younger core than typical for varsity teams. With just two seniors on the squad, it’s safe to say that the team is being left in good hands. One of the young stars on the team is freshman Katie Diao. With her smooth handles, Diao was able to dribble hard to the basket for big points or create space and make a pass to a teammate.

 Diao has been playing basketball since the first or second grade, so she has brought a lot of experience to the team. However, being a freshman on varsity is no easy task, but Diao says the other girls made it easier for her.  

“Being a freshman on the team was a little intimidating at first but the team was really welcoming, and I’m really grateful for that,” she said. Diao had to get used to the playstyle of the team because it was different from what she was used to on her club team, but clearly she was able to adapt, breaking the freshman scoring record this season, dropping 300 points.

Just like her coach, Diao’s favorite moment from the season was the playoff win over Whitman. “We lost to them the first time, so it was awesome to see the growth of our team,” Diao said.