When Bell and Wilson met on Jan. 31, the Griffins walked away with a one-point victory in a thriller. The teams split their regular-season series, and their matchup Tuesday will culminate in the crowning of a DCIAA champion not named H.D. Woodson for the first time in eight years.
Since the Tigers lost to Bell, they have won eight consecutive games, led by sophomore sharpshooter Tytilayo Green, who averaged 21.5 points per game during that stretch. Her 65 three-pointers are an area-best.
Senior forward Mercedes Suarez, who has been battling an ankle injury for a month, is coming off a season-high 25 points against Ballou in the DCIAA semifinals where she shot 8 for 10 from the free throw line. Suarez, who will make her third consecutive DCIAA title game appearance on Tuesday, has posted seven games of 20 points or more this season.
“I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity for a while,” Suarez said. “The last two championships we’ve gone to didn’t turn out well, but this one I feel like we are going to get it.”
Bell Coach Reggie Taylor leads a Griffins squad (16-11) that is making its first appearance in the DCIAA title game in school history. The Griffins showed their resiliency by knocking off Anacostia 42-37 in Saturday’s semifinals after falling to them by 15 points just four days earlier.
“We didn’t give up on Saturday,” Griffins sophomore Rayonna Marshall said. “When we played at Anacostia we kind of gave up, but this time we stuck together as a team and fought hard.”
Marshall leads the team in scoring at just under 11 points per game and has transitioned well into her role as a vocal leader on a team that has just one senior and three juniors.
“She brings toughness, she never quits and she brings a lot of energy to the team,” Taylor said of Marshall. “I love her defensive intensity on the ball.”
The Griffins had three players score in double figures in their upset of Wilson (20-6), and will need another team effort if they plan to bring the title back to Columbia Heights.
“We have to stay focused,” Taylor said. “Wilson will not lay down for us, we have to stick together no matter the score and believe we can still win. We have to fight hard.”