W.T. Woodson senior Alex Boock returning from having a pinkie surgically repaired has enabled the guard and his teammates to wave a more enviable digit — an index finger indicating their top status in the Virginia AAA Patriot District.
The No. 12 Cavaliers preserved that unbeaten district mark with a 64-54 win Tuesday night at T.C. Williams in which Boock scored 12 second-half points after not scoring in the first half when he sat on the bench in foul trouble.
“I managed to stay focused and stay into the game,” Boock said of his extended time off the floor, “and make sure my mind was right to perform well.”
Boock’s return after missing the first 11 games gives Woodson a 6-foot-6 shooter, senior Tommy Stepka (34 three-pointers after three more against T.C. Williams), on one side and the 6-4 Boock on the other.
Defenders are forced to step out on those two, creating space inside for 6-4 senior forward Peter Murray and enabling sophomore point guard Eric Bowles, and others, to attack the basket. Four players scored in double figures Tuesday.
“When you’ve got Alex and Tommy in the game, you can’t leave either of them,” said Bowles, who scored buzzer-beating baskets to end the first and third quarters. “It’s opened up the floor to give everybody the space to do what they do.”
“It’s kind of balanced us out,” W.T. Woodson Coach Doug Craig said. “When you have a shooter on either side, and they’re both tall shooters, we’re able to get some things done.”
Said Stepka: “We’re jelling now.”
Woodson (15-2, 9-0) took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter, and Boock hit two three-pointers in the first 64 seconds of the period. The Cavaliers soon built a comfortable lead . . . semi-comfortable, anyway. T.C. senior Javon Wilson hit three three-pointers in the final quarter to keep the Titans within range.
Woodson’s district lead is a bit more breezy. Every Patriot team but the Cavaliers entered Tuesday night with at least two league losses.
T.C. Williams (9-7, 6-3) seemed intent on handing the Cavaliers their first district setback, opening the game with a 7-0 run and outmuscling W.T. Woodson for much of the early going.
“In the first half we didn’t really respond very well to the physical nature of the game, especially on the defensive end,” Craig said. “In the second half, I thought our physicality really kind of came through on the backboards. That’s really what turned the game around for us.”
Woodson has now won four of the last five games in the series against T.C. Williams after losing seven straight to the Titans prior to that. They won both regular season games last year but lost to T.C. Williams in the district semifinals.
So some T.C. Williams students were chanting, “Just like last year!” at the end of the game.