Now the lofty and growing total was within one of reaching 800 career victories for Fred Priester when the week began.
The longtime Northern Virginia girls high school head basketball coach had 799 wins as his Oakton Cougars entered the 2024 postseason portion of the campaign.
The Virginia High School League has Priester listed as the organization’s second in career wins (coaching VHSL teams) behind still active coach Billy Gibson of West Springfield High School.
Priester became a head coach for the 1984-85 campaign at McLean High School, where he won more than 100 games in 10 seasons there. He took over as Oakton’s head coach in the 1994-95 season, taking charge of a team that finished 4-18 the season before.
Priester, a product of Indiana basket- ball, turned things around quickly. The Cougars finished 20-7 his first season there, won the Concorde District tournament, and lost in the region semifinals. Oakton has never had a losing season under Priester.
Under Priester, the Cougars have won multiple district and region tournaments an one state championship.
Oakton finished the 2023-24 regular season with a big 50-36 win over the four-time defending state champion Madison Warhawks, then lost to the first place Centreville Wildcats, 60-56, in its final two two district games.
By now, Priester certainly has well more than a 1,000 wins, counting the numerous AAU teams he has coached for many years.
Against Madison, Oakton was aggressive offensively and took the lead for good at 29-27 with 4 minutes left in the third period on a layup by Sophie Toole, who scored a game-high 20 points and made two three-pointers. That basket started a 16-0 run that gave the Cougars a 16-point lead.
“We are starting to get more confident with the things we are doing and we are pretty balances on offense,” Priester said. “We have been working hard and we have put together some decent games. You can’t win games unless you are in position to win and we have been in that position recently.”
Brooke Change (three rebounds) scored 14 for Oakton; Jocelynn Kinlaw had 12 rebounds, two steals a block and eight points; Finlay Tarr scored five, Melissa Aly three and Bailey Zimmerman added seven rebounds and a steal.
Stella Gougoufkas (seven rebounds) scored 10 for Madison, Ava Wu eight with three assists and Sara Becker six with five rebounds.
Against Centreville for Oakton, Toole scored 19 and had five rebounds. Farr netted 12, all coming on four three-pointers and Kinlaw had nine points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Also, Zimmerman had nine points (two three-pointers) and seven rebounds and Chang scored six.
Oakton led at the end of the first quarter, 16-12, and at halftime, 28-21. Centreville scored the first 11 points of the third quarter to take the lead for good, as Oakton missed its first five shot from the floor in the second half.