H.D. Woodson vs. Good Counsel: Warriors ride defense to win in City Title Game
By Preston Williams,
H.D. Woodson senior guard Rahni Bell says it’s not enough to have a smothering defense. The best ones have a sadistic streak, and her No. 5 Warriors flashed that trait early and often Tuesday night at Verizon Center in the Abe Pollin City Title girls’ basketball championship.
In a 64-54 win over No. 2 Good Counsel, which had gone unbeaten in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, H.D. Woodson forced 27 turnovers while committing only eight in capturing its third City Title in five years.
“Chinese water torture,” said Bell, whose team jumped out to a 17-6 lead and outscored the Falcons, 18-6, in the fourth quarter. “Keep dropping, keep dropping, keep dropping. It’s going to build up. In the fourth quarter, they couldn’t come back.”
“The WCAC is widely considered one of the top conferences, but there is not an H.D. Woodson in the WCAC,” said Warriors Coach Frank Oliver, whose team has won the past seven D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association titles to qualify for the City Title Game. “So you don’t see a team like us in the WCAC.”
After falling behind early, Good Counsel made it a 27-25 game by halftime, and the third quarter featured four ties and eight lead changes. But the Warriors (26-5) went on a 10-2 run to start the fourth period, aided by four turnovers.
Oliver considers his eight-player team to be the best man-to-man defensive group that he has coached.
“It felt like when we got into our press break we were kind of mixed around; we didn’t know where we were,” said Good Counsel senior guard Faith Randolph, the WCAC player of the year, who committed seven turnovers. “Missed execution kind of hurt us. We knew H.D. Woodson was going to press up on us and I guess we felt really rushed in our offense.”
Woodson placed five scorers in double figures and got a season-high 19 points from sophomore guard Breonn Hughey, who made all nine of her free throw attempts and was honored as the Warriors’ most valuable player in the game.
Hughey said she had a feeling before the game that she would have a big night. Oliver’s had that feeling for a while now.
“I was waiting for her breakout game,” he said. “I didn’t know if it would come today, but I wasn’t surprised, because she has that talent.”
Bell and fellow seniors Jephany Brown, Chanel Green and Janae Blount all scored between 10 and 12 points. Brown had nine rebounds and Green five steals. That scoring balance was reflected early — four Warriors scored their team’s first four baskets.
Good Counsel (30-5), in the City Title Game for the fourth time in eight years, thought it had pulled to within 58-54 with 1 minute 43 seconds left, but Randolph’s basket was waved off and she was called for an offensive foul. The Warriors made six of eight foul shots in the final 75 seconds.
Randolph led the Falcons with 16 points. Sophomore forward Sara Woods scored 15 points, more than double her season average, and also had nine rebounds. She was named the game MVP for Good Counsel.
The Falcons, who went 21-0 in the WCAC in winning the league title, finished the season with back-to-back losses to area teams, their only such losses of the season. The Falcons fell to WCAC rival St. John’s — a team it had beaten three times, including in the conference final — in the Bishop Walsh Invitational championship March 10 and then fell Tuesday night.
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