There's a reason Madison is the top-ranked girls basketball team in the Washington area. It has depth. It has outside shooting. It has pressure defense. And it has its first Journal Warhawk Winter Classic championship firmly in its grasp.
The Warhawks showcased all their mighty talents last night in Vienna, and handily defeated seventh-ranked West Springfield, 79-55.
Host Madison had finished with one second-place finish and two thirds in the last three Classics before finally coming away with the title. Behind Charleata Beale's 34 points, No. 11 Gar-Field beat Oakton, 67-55, in the consolation game.
Madison's outside shooting produced eight three-point goals, including five by tournament MVP Jackie Freeman. Its defense held the Spartans to 36 percent shooting and forced 28 turnovers. And its depth enabled the Warhawks to overcome foul trouble by both teams. And with Madison Coach Pat Deegan pumping fresh bodies into the game, they ran almost at will near the end of the game.
Along with her five three-pointers, Freeman was 11 of 12 from the line to lead the Warhawks with 26 points. "Jackie Freeman has to be the best clutch player in the metropolitan area," said Deegan. Denise Wojciech had 22 points and Kati Southworth had 12.
Center Jen Terry led the Spartans with 17 points and Lisa Henderson added 10.
Madison employs a vacuum-like full-court press and came out sucking up loose balls. West Springfield could barely get past half-court and fell behind by 17-3 in the first quarter.
The Spartans went on an 8-0 run to pull within six, but Freeman hit her first three-pointer to dash their hopes. West Springfield pulled within six once more before trailing at halftime by 33-26.
The Spartans may not have emerged again had they known what was ahead. Julie Wight, the Spartans best player, picked up her fourth foul midway through the third quarter. The Warhawks caught fire, shooting 10 for 17 from the field, and Freeman dumped in three three-pointers and Wojiech two.
"I told Mr. Deegan," said Freeman, "that before I graduated I wanted to win this tournament." M (7-0) -- Freeman 26, Wojciech 22, Southworth 12, Coggeshall 4, Jaksch 8, Mitchell 2, Benton 3, Bellamy 2. Totals 28 15 79. WS (6-1) -- Dunahy 1, Newman 6, Wight 7, Henderson 10, Patton 6, Terry 17, Falco 4, Colombell 4. Totals 19 15 55.
Halftime: Madison, 33-26.
Three-point goals: Madison 8 (Freeman 5, Wojciech 2, Benton); West Springfield 2 (Wight, Terry).