Scoring points is usually more enjoyable than playing defense, but 10th-ranked Woodward (22-3) can appreciate the importance of performing at both ends of the court.
"We've almost gotten to enjoy defense," said Chip Rosenberg, who averages 21.2 points per game for the Bethesda school. "We realize that's how we win our games. Especially Saturday night against Wootton (in a maryland A regional championship) when we were down by 18 points. We tightened up and won (65-56)."
Woodword's brand of hard work and unselfish team play has brought it to Friday's semifinal matchup against Aberdeen at 7 p.m. at Cole Field House.
"We've had a thing on our team board all year that said 'Let Cole be our goal,'" Rosenberg noted. "We've worked really hard. We think we really deserve it."
Coach Tom George said he was most pleased by the way his Wildcats play defense. 'It's a very intelligent ball club and they all know what to do," he added. "They're a very dedicated group - a very unselfish bunch."
Woodward presents interesting matchup problems to its opponents.
Point guard Rosenberg and center Dave Railford are the tallest starters at 6-foot-3. Starting guard Rich Schwartz and forwards Steve Robertson and Stu Strang all measure 6.2.
"It works to your advantage," said George, "because you can bring your guards inside and your big men out."
Only junior Robertson is a transplant on last season's starting unit. While Rosenberg has been on the varsity for three years, Strang, Schwartz, and Raiford formed the core of Montgomery County's 1975 junior varsity A champions before moving up to the varsity a year ago.
The result is a team that anticipates each other's movements on the court and gets along well off the court.
"That's one of the super things about this team," said Rosenberg. "This year's team - not just the starters - are pretty close. We're very close. I guess you'd say we complement each other well."
George is not afraid to call on his reserves. Mitch Dobbin, a 6.3 center-forward, usually gets the first call, and 6.4 forward Bob Richmond gets plenty of action. When the team needs a spark in the backcourt, George inserts 5.6 junior Pat Brosnan.
"That's one of the reasons our team is so close-knit," Rosenberg explained. "Everybody knows he's going to get a chance. For people who know they're not going to start, they give 100 per cent. It isn't so on every team."
For a team that stresses defense, the Wildcats don't lack a scoring punch. All five starters average in double figures, with Rosenberg's four counterparts scoring between 10 and 14 points per game.
The Wildcats use a 1.4 offensive aligment that has the point guard out front with the remaining players working their patterns from a straight line parallel to the baseline.
On defense, the Wildcats try to force their opponents out of their patterns with a stiff man-to-man. Woodward will only switch to a zone in the event of foul trouble.
"Coach George stresses to apply (pressure) all the time," Rosenberg said. "We try to make the offensive tcam do what we want them to do."