When the four seniors on the fifth-ranked H.D. Woodson girls’ basketball team take the floor at Verizon Center on Tuesday for the Abe Pollin City Title Game, it will be the culmination of a remarkable run for the close friends.
Rahni Bell, Janae Blount, Jephany Brown and Chanel Green first started playing together five years ago as eighth-graders on the D.C. Cobras, a club team coached by H.D. Woodson Coach Frank Oliver. On Tuesday, they will make their fourth straight City Title Game appearance when they face No. 2 Good Counsel.
“It’s been fun,” Bell said. “A journey.”
The four players, who have helped the Warriors (25-5) extend their streak of seven consecutive D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association titles, didn’t immediately connect when they first started playing together.
“It took a little while to start playing with each other and get to know each other,” said Brown, the last player to join the group because Bell and Green were on the same AAU team at the time and Green and Blount were middle school classmates. “We started talking and starting connecting.”
But in their four years at H.D. Woodson, the four players have had plenty of time to bond on and off the court. They are now close friends, and often spend the night at each other’s houses, hang out and watch movies together.
Green, the 5-foot-4 point guard, is the team’s general on the floor and the group’s “mom” off it, as Bell put it. Brown, the 6-foot forward with an incessant motor around the basket, is “playful and funny,” Green said. Blount, the 5-foot-8 guard who can post up or shoot the mid-range jump shot, is “the most outrageous and funny,” according to Bell. Bell, the 5-foot-10 sharp-shooting guard, is the self-admitted “baby” of the group.
And when they are all together, it works.
“It’s organized chaos,” Blount said. “Someone else may look at it and think it’s crazy but we know it’s all good.”
They insist that they rarely, if ever, get sick of being together despite all the time they spend together, from the summer league games to trips up to New York to play in tournaments to the three-month long season.
“It’s never boring because we’re always doing something,” Green said.
Tuesday will mark the last City Title Game for the four seniors, who will head their separate ways for college. Brown and Green will play basketball at Providence together. Bell has offers from Bowie State, Indiana, High Point, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State and Pittsburgh, among others, Oliver said. Blount also has offers from Indiana and Pittsburgh, in addition to ones from Cleveland State, East Tennessee State and Virginia Commonwealth, according to Oliver.
But first, they are focused on the City Title Game. They haven’t won one since 2009, when they were all freshmen. Brown was the only one of the current seniors to score in that game; she had four points in a 61-43 win over Good Counsel.
“I got a great shot,” Brown said. “We’re going to win the City Title. We’re going to move on to college and win championships even though all of us aren’t going to be together ... We’ve got the same mindset to win everything.”
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