Ronika Ransford Leads H.D. Woodson to City Title in Girls Basketball, Defeats Good Counsel, 61-43

The H.D. Woodson girls' basketball team defeats Good Counsel 61-43 in the City Title Game on March 9 at Verizon Center.
By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

With the crowd egging on her highlight-reel dribbling, and her ear-to-ear smile seemingly stretching the length of the court, Ronika Ransford did well to hide that last night was her most important game of the season.

By the closing moments of last night's 61-43 victory over No. 5 Good Counsel, the H.D. Woodson junior was just having a good time in the City Title game. A season-long goal had been achieved.

"When it gets to that point, I just get in a zone," Ransford said. "I was just having a lot of fun."

Ransford's playtime was as entertaining to the Verizon Center crowd of approximately 4,000 as it was effective as the No. 8 Warriors became the first District public school to win consecutive girls' titles.

Ransford scored 19 of her game-high 21 points in the second half, showcasing a flashy crossover dribble and slick moves that drew a standing ovation from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty sitting in the first row behind midcourt.

"It shows we're not a fluke," Woodson Coach Frank Oliver said. "We're not going away. We want to come back her next year and show it again."

Woodson (22-6) took control early, on the strength of 6-foot-6 center Jeniece Johnson, the most valuable player of last year's game. With a half-foot height advantage over the tallest Falcon, Johnson routinely backed in and secured terrific position for either a short turnaround or a kickout to the perimeter when she drew double teams.

"It was kind of easy," said Johnson, who scored 14 of her 15 points in the first half, as Woodson took a 28-17 lead at the break, "but I had to keep my composure because I don't want to hurt anyone out there."

Johnson drew her fourth foul less than three minutes into the third quarter, and went to the bench with Woodson ahead 37-26. Good Counsel (27-4) would trim the margin to 41-36 and Woodson needed a spark.

Oliver "told me to go out there and kill them," Ransford said, "and that's what I did."

Woodson's offense, which usually starts with inside passes to Johnson, turned into a perimeter game with Ransford running the show. The Warriors set picks for her at the top of the key that opened the lane for her spectacular drives -- whether it was a twisting layup that turned into a three-point play, a drive along the left side of the lane for a layup or a spin move that led to a jumper from the foul line.

"I feel like she thought since [Johnson] wasn't there, [Ransford] had to take over," Good Counsel senior guard Sarian Snyder said.

The move that left the crowd breathless occurred with five minutes left. Ransford drove the lane, leapt in the air, drew contact and with her back to the basket, switched hands from right to left (her off-hand) and flipped the shot in, while drawing a foul. She completed the three-point play to make it 52-38 and seal the victory.

No. 8 H.D. Woodson 61 No. 5 Good Counsel 43 City Champs: Woodson's 18-point victory was the most lopsided by a D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association team since the girls' game debuted in 1990. It marked the first time a DCIAA team won consecutive games. Streak to the Finish: The Warriors ended itheir season on an 11-game winning streak. Good Counsel's 18-game streak was snapped, but it has the Bishop Walsh tournament this weekend.

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