The No. 8 West Springfield girls’ basketball team misses All-Met senior guard April Robinson, out since mid-December with an ankle injury, in so many ways. Her scoring, ball-handling, shooting range to name a few.
But each game the Spartans play without her, they learn a little something new about themselves, including Friday night when they almost squandered a 12-point halftime lead before pulling out a 49-48 home victory over T.C. Williams in a rematch of last year’s Virginia AAA Northern Region final.
Robinson, a Duquesne commit, hopes to return to the floor next week — her most intense action Friday night was feeding teammates balls off the rack during warm-ups. When she does get back, she might discover a more capable team than the one she left, one that was able to stave off the region runner-up Titans without her.
This win “was very big for us,” said West Springfield senior forward Logan Battle, a Georgetown commit. “We have to work so hard now that April’s out, but when she comes back we know that it’s just going to get a lot better for us.”
“She’s like a quarterback out there to run things that you want to be run,” said West Springfield Coach Bill Gibson, whose team’s losses were at a holiday tournament in Florida. “The other kids are doing a good job picking up for it. There’s no doubt we miss her. How could you not miss somebody like that.”
Without Robinson, the Spartans (10-2, 4-0 in the Patriot District) committed 23 turnovers against T.C. Williams. But there were standouts, too. Sophomore guard Amy Berglund, who missed the first seven games with a knee injury, scored a season-high 15 points. Junior forward Lindsey Mares connected on five of six field-goal attempts in the first quarter. And Battle had 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
“It was very nerve-wracking, especially the past few games,” Mares said of playing without Robinson. “Our whole team has been missing her. It’s just allowed other people to step up because missing such a big person and playing teams like [T.C. Williams] really hurts us. Some of the younger girls are coming out and playing very well.”
West Springfield, which has won the past seven in the series against T.C. Williams, was up by 11 midway through the third quarter before the Titans rallied, finally tying the game at 48 with 2 minutes 52 seconds to play when freshman Rejoice Spivey made the first of two free throws.
The only scoring thereafter was a foul shot by West Springfield senior guard Jordan Miller with 2:06 to play. With possession, T.C. Williams called a timeout with 44 seconds left but could not find an open shot, eventually turning the ball over on a travel in the lane with seven seconds left.
Battle missed the front end of a one-and-one with five seconds to play but the Titans (7-4, 3-1) could manage only a desperation heave from around midcourt before the buzzer.