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Woodbridge girls head basketball coach Tamika Dudley gets the honors of the final cut of the net after her team won the Occoquan Region 6C Championship game by holding off a strong charge by T.C. Williams, 65-61, in Alexandria on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.

Tamika Dudley had many good reasons to remain as Woodbridge High School’s girls basketball coach.

Among them: three returning starters from this season’s Class 6 state champion, all of whom have either committed to a Division I program or will do so in the future.

But during the season, she learned more about Washington D.C.-based Sidwell Friends after taking her daughter Kendall there for a workout.

After discovering long-time head coach Anne Renninger was retiring, Dudley began asking more questions about the school and the program. She liked what she heard and applied for the job.

Sidwell Friends responded in kind by hiring Dudley as Renninger’s replacement. Renninger started at Sidwell Friends in 1981 and won over 500 games.

“It was a hard decision,” Dudley who went 131-75 in eight seasons at her alma mater. “The girls were the reason to stay.”

Seniors Vanessa Laumbach (George Mason commitment), Aaliyah Pitts and Alia Denwiddie are all starters coming back from a Viking team that went 29-1 and won the program’s first-ever state title.

Pitts was the Class 6 state player of the year and Laumbach was first-team all-state. Dudley was the coach of the year.

Dudley said basketball was the impetus to explore the Sidwell Friends opportunity, but her decision to leave came down to other factors.

“For me, I had to look at it from the professional side and take basketball out of the equation,” Dudley said. “It was more of a professional and financial move than a basketball one.”

Dudley said her daughter, who is a rising eighth grader, will enroll at Sidwell Friends as well.

The Quakers return Kiki Rice, a rising sophomore who recently was named to the U-16 national team.

Under Dudley, Woodbridge reached four straight state tournaments and won 20 or more games four times. The Vikings won only 17 games in her first three seasons at the helm.

David Fawcett is the sports editor for InsideNoVa.com. Reach him at dfawcett@insidenova.com

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