W.T. Woodson's 6-foot center, Lorraine Rimson, isn't kidding when she says the best competition the girls team could get would be a scrimmage with the boys team.
The top-ranked, undefeated Cavalier girls team has not been challenged this season, winning 19 games by an average of 20 points. Included among the Woodson victories are a 16-point defeat of second-ranked DuVal and wins over Robinson, T.C. Williams and West Springfield, ranked teams in the Virginia AAA's Northern District.
And the boys team is having one of its finest seasons. The Cavaliers are 18-1 and are ranked second behind unbeaten Seneca Valley. This is the first time in the history of area high school rankings that boys and girls basketball teams from the same school have been so highly ranked in the same season.
"It's great for our school having two solid teams with chances of winning state titles," said Bill Caudill, Woodson's athletic director. "Our football team just missed going to the region final. Our swimming, gymnastics and rifle teams are doing very well and, of course, we have two fine basketball teams."
Paul (Red) Jenkins, the boys team coach who is in his 20th year at the Fairfax County school, says this year's squad is "as good or better than any team I've had here.
"The best record I ever had was 19-2 and we lost in the region final," Jenkins said. "In fact, we've never won a region final. We've won 11 district championships, went to the region semifinals six times and the final three times. People say we always get there but can't win. What people don't say is that a lot of those years, we shouldn't have been there in the first place . . . Maybe I'm making excuses. We just didn't win."
This could be Jenkins' year. Woodson has the quick floor leader in 5-foot-11 junior Tommy Amaker, the good shooter in 6-4 junior Pat Witting, the strong inside player in 6-6 senior Gary Phillips and two good complementary players in 6-2 junior Mark Unterkofler and 6-2 senior Tom Karl.
"Five years ago, I didn't have one player who could dunk," said Jenkins, the most successful coach in Northern Virginia, with a 323-121 record. "Now, I can count 'em; five, six, seven. We have some guys who can jump. Our real strength has been consistency. We have a bunch of good kids who don't mind working hard."
Few are surprised that both Woodson teams are doing so well. Last year, Jenkins started two sophomores and two juniors and finished 15-8, losing to Mount Vernon, 56-51, in the first round of the region playoffs. The girls finished 17-8, but seven of the losses were to Williams and to state champion Robinson.
"We're not surprised at our record. We had good people coming back and we felt we'd have a good team," said Amaker, the team leader in assists and steals. "Last year, we were just trying to survive. We had a good summer league and that helped our confidence. We didn't set a lot of goals, just to win as many as we can. We were in the same situation as the girls, getting most of our guys back. That's why they're winning, too."
Since the teams play at the same time, the only chance they have to see one another is during practice.
"I wish we could work with them in practice," said Rimson, who averages 16 points and a dozen rebounds. "We'd probably be even better. The coaches won't let us do it because they think we might get hurt."
Girls Coach Cheryl Thompson, looking to get some momentum for the upcoming tournament, is having second thoughts.
"That would have to help us," said Thompson, who took over an 0-16 team six years ago and has slowly built a good program. "We're not a big, big team but we could profit by working with the boys. We have a quick team that adjusts to situations very fast. Nothing fancy. We have good personnel and we're able to do a lot of things. I guess we feel like the boys: we think we have the best team over here (Virginia) and we'll be very disappointed if we don't win the region."
Like Jenkins, Thompson has reason to be optimistic about her team's chances of winning its first region championship. Rimson gets a lot of help under the basket from 5-10 sophomore Paula Anderson and 5-9 senior Sue Galloway. Five-six senior Kathy Bohan and 5-6 junior Helene Baroody, one of the best point guards in the metropolitan area, start in the back court.
Although the girls team is ranked first, the boys still command much of the school's attention.
"Right now, the boys still dominate the scene, but that doesn't bother us,' said Bohan. "We're getting much better support from the school. I'm sure everyone realizes what it means to us and the school to be ranked first in the area."
Traditionally, suburban Virginia and Maryland teams have trailed Interhigh League and Metro Conference teams. For years, the suburban schools seldom came within 20 points of the perennial powers. Some dissenters still argue that neither Woodson team should be ranked so high.
Witting, who averages just under 20 points per game, and Phillips feel that if the Cavaliers had to play Mackin, St. John's, McNamara and De Matha consecutively, they would have more than one loss.
"I think we'd hold our own, but it would be tough playing those teams right behind one another," Witting said. "We've been in a few close games but we've played with confidence and won them. We still have a lot of young guys but we aren't thinking about next year. We want to win now."
Jenkins and Thompson would like to schedule teams outside of Northern Virginia, but Virginia interscholastic rules allow only two extra games, or three if entered in a tournament.
"The reason we played in the George Mason tournament was because DuVal and St. Anthony's were in it," Thompson said. "You want to play the best. Everyone was looking for a Woodson-St. Anthony's final but DuVal was awarded a win over St. Anthony's when they walked out. I would love to play St. Anthony's. Beating these teams over here, 70-20, is ridiculous, but we have to play them."
Jenkins echoed Thompson's sentiments. "It would be fantastic to play the Interhigh, Metro and Maryland schools," he said. "Hopefully, someone will changes these rules and let these kids play basketball."
Until then, the Woodson teams will have to be content with beating everyone in Northern Virginia. And being ranked Nos. 1 and 2.