The Jefferson and W.T. Woodson girls basketball teams entered last night's game in Alexandria with identical 7-5 records. But after Jefferson's end-to-end dominance, few similarities remained.
After a sluggish start, the Colonials found their strokes and pulled away in the second quarter to defeat the Cavaliers, 69-41, in a AAA nondistrict game. Four Colonials reached double figures in scoring, led by Gretchen Heitz and Liz Hurlbut who scored 13 points apiece. Julia Miller and Kelley Washington each notched 10.
But it was Jefferson's defense that was decisive. The Colonials showed a balanced mix of half-court traps and full-court pressure, which left the Cavaliers disoriented.
"I don't know why we started slow," Jefferson Coach Gary Young said. "I liked the way we played defensively, so I was confident in that. It was just a matter of when we could start scoring and pulling away."
Woodson's leading scorer, Christine Lingenfelder, who had averaged over 20 points coming into the game, scored 13 and was held to just two field goals in the first half as Jefferson built a 36-20 halftime lead.
"We told Lindsey Hurlbut just to stay on No. 12 [Lingenfelder], don't worry about anything else and not leave her all night," Young said. "And she did a good job with that. We had better athletes on the perimeter and we were able to hold her down in the first half." Alfreda Delle's jumper in the lane with 2 minutes 49 second to play in the first quarter gave the Colonials the lead for good, 6-4, and seemed to relax the Jefferson offense. The Colonials scored on each of their next six possessions, capped by a desperation three-pointer by Heitz as time expired in the quarter, which made the score 21-9.
"We weren't getting a lot of the calls, but they were making some extraordinary shots," Woodson Coach Cheryl Thompson said. "We weren't playing our pressure defense and we weren't executing our offense. They're more experienced than we are."
The chief beneficiary of that experience appeared to be Heitz, who dominated the game, according to Thompson. A natural shooting guard, Heitz has been forced to play point guard in this, her senior season. At times she has shunned the pass-first credo and hoisted up wild shots. But last night, she played as complete a game as Young has seen from her.
"She's had nights when her shot hasn't been falling," Young said. "The key for her is to drive more and not rely on just shooting the three."
Jefferson eliminated any Woodson chances for a second-half comeback by using a 13-4 run to open the third quarter and establishing a 20-point lead, which it held throughout.
"They're a very physical team," Thompson said. "We're going to have to learn to play as physical as they did. We didn't tonight, but we're young."