As rusty as the No. 13 Woodbridge boys basketball team might have been, the Vikings did nothing to lose the luster off their record last night by disposing of Gar-Field, 51-42, to hang on to sole possession of first place in the AAA Cardinal District.
Woodbridge (12-2, 5-0) had not practiced since Jan. 13 because of snow days, a Sunday and a national holiday, though the Vikings did play Wednesday. Gar-Field (10-2, 4-2) had not practiced since last Saturday but also had played Wednesday.
That missed floor time and a Woodbridge defensive scheme that gridlocked the inside for Gar-Field forwards Aaron Andrews and David Hooper keyed the victory for the Vikings, who held the Indians 31 points below their season scoring average.
"It was a really ugly game," Woodbridge Coach Will Robinson said. "I didn't think anybody was going to score 40 points. But when you don't have a good practice, it's hard to come out and have a good performance. It's hard to develop a rhythm."
Gar-Field could relate, what with the Vikings clogging passing lanes and the team's top outside threat, senior Joaquin Jackson, who averages in double figures, not hitting a shot. In fact, only four Indians scored, compared with seven players for the Vikings.
Junior guard Akeem Scott led the Indians with 14 points and six rebounds. Andrews had 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Hooper had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals.
"For a preparation freak like myself, [not practicing] limits any of our potential to take away their strengths," Gar-Field Coach Andy Gray said. "But that same philosophy didn't seem to affect them, because they did a good job of taking away our strengths. Their team defense is what won it."
Woodbridge senior forward John Bryant turned in another in a series of solid games, with four rebounds and three steals to go with 12 points, tying junior Shane Staples for a game-high scoring total. Staples was the difference in the first half, burying three three-pointers that helped the Vikings carry a 10-point lead into the third quarter. But Bryant was the difference late, plucking a lob pass out of the air, grabbing a rebound off a shot that could have cut the lead to two and scoring inside to put the Vikings up by six with 1 minute 37 seconds left. Gar-Field never pulled closer than four points.
Robinson pointed to the lob theft as a crucial play. Cajoling Bryant to extend his long arms has been a point of emphasis this season.
"He always tells me to put my arms up like a 747 jet," Bryant said.