After disappearing from West Springfield's offensive scheme for nearly 10 minutes, Jen Terry's return couldn't have been more timely.

The sophomore forward made a three-point play and converted an offensive rebound for five points midway through the fourth quarter last night as West Springfield's third-ranked girls defeated visiting No. 16 Lake Braddock, 67-56, in a battle for first place in the Virginia AAA Northern District.

The defending district champions improved to 5-0, 12-1 overall. The Bruins dropped to 4-1, 9-3.

"This is where we wanted to be -- in the lead," Terry said. "Now everybody has to come after us."

Terry, who scored a game-high 23 points and finished the first half with a four-point flurry, seemed to be everywhere at once in the closing minutes. A steal here, a rebound there and nine critical points that deflated Lake Braddock's rally from a 10-point deficit.

"Lake Braddock came out and really fought hard to get back in it," Terry said. "I thought it was great we pulled together at the end."

Kristin Jepson (10 points) led the Bruins' charge in the third quarter with four jumpers as Lake Braddock cut the margin to 44-41 as the quarter ended. Lauren Reitwiesner (15 points) made a hook shot with 5:36 remaining to give the Bruins their first lead, 48-46, since early in the game.

But the Spartans' fullcourt press began to take its toll as Lake Braddock committed three straight turnovers. Terry's three-point play with 5:27 left sparked a 9-0 run. And Julie Wight broke out of a zero-for-seven slump with her third three-point goal to give West Springfield a 57-48 cushion with 2:35 left.

"We like to run an up-tempo game and they're used to using only six players," said West Springfield Coach Bill Gibson. "We were using 10. I think that was the difference -- our depth."

Wight proved her versatility as both an accurate long-range shooter as well as a passer during the Spartans' 14-2 second-quarter run. Twice Wight completed outlet passes that were converted into layups. She then made consecutive three-point goals -- the second from near NBA-distance -- to extend West Springfield's lead to 30-16.