Girls’ basketball: Whitman racking up wins thanks to balanced scoring, strong defense


Whitman forward Avery Witt (24) powers down an offensive rebound against Blair on Jan. 10. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

It took just a second, a flick of the wrist, for Whitman guard Avery Witt to believe her team might have a special postseason run in them. With about 20 seconds to go in last week’s game against Paint Branch and her team down 43-41, Witt was on the baseline when she saw a shot go up. It was a quickly released three-pointer by Nicole Fleck.

“There was no real set play for that shot. It was just like one of those in-the-moment shots. It was one of those things where you’re literally watching the ball in slow motion,” Witt said. “Everything about it was perfect.”

Fleck’s dramatic game winner sealed a 44-43 win for the No. 13 Vikings (11-2, 5-0 in Montgomery 4A South), who have won 10 straight games and beat a state championship contending Paint Branch team for the second consecutive season.

And Whitman, as usual, did it with balanced scoring and a strong defensive effort in the second half. Witt had 13 points, but no other Vikings player scored in double figures (no player averages double figures in points per game, either). Paint Branch (10-2) entered the game averaging 78.5 points per game in its two previous appearances, but even on their home floor, the 14th ranked Panthers struggled against Whitman’s man-to-man defensive pressure. Tyra Sinclair scored a game-high 15 points, but the Panthers were held to just four points in the first quarter and six in the third and scored the fewest points in a game this season.

“We were expecting a really electric atmosphere, and it was,” Witt said. “We knew we were going to be walking into that gym and facing a team that wanted to beat us and had us circled on the calendar for us for a very long time.”

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from the week of basketball in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

Whitman remains in control in the Montgomery 4A South race, and has a fair amount of rest coming up in the schedule. After meeting Quince Orchard (1-11, 0-5) on Tuesday, the Vikings will have just two games in the two weeks, which should provide plenty of time to finely tune their shooting and defensive approach with the last leg of the season approaching.

“After each game I can feel our team getting stronger,” Witt said. “I think we have the ability to go as far as we want to.”

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