On the back of the Robinson girls basketball team's warm-up shirts is a motivational message reminding the Rams that they lost three games last season to the same team, including a 30-point loss in the AAA state final.
The team in question: West Springfield.
The No. 2 Rams got a measure of revenge, routing No. 11 West Springfield, 63-26, for their ninth consecutive victory last night at the Harry M. Smith Fieldhouse in Fairfax. Robinson improved to 15-1, 6-0 in the Patriot District, and took a two-game lead over West Springfield (13-3, 4-2) in the district.
It was the second time Robinson has beaten West Springfield this season, after the Spartans had defeated the Rams eight consecutive times over the past three seasons. Robinson defeated West Springfield, 77-63, on Jan. 4.
"That's our motivational factor," said Robinson senior forward Myriam Baccouche, who averages a team-high 14 points per game. "West Springfield is basically our focal point. We had never beaten them since I was a freshman. Winning this game showed us that we are contenders."
Last night Baccouche led Robinson with a game-high 18 points, and added six rebounds, four steals and two assists. Senior forward Lesley Harvey added 12 points and 12 rebounds, and personally outrebounded West Springfield, 7-5, in the first quarter.
West Springfield also was hurt by Robinson's stifling defense and its hot shooting. The Rams made 5 of 11 three-pointers in the first half, and held the Spartans to 8-of-41 shooting overall. The Spartans' 26 points represented what Kara Lawson, the 1999 national player of the year, averaged per game last season for West Springfield. Lawson now plays at the University of Tennessee.
"Last year we had three people on [Lawson]," Baccouche said. "Now we can play our game. It basically shows that she was their team last year. Plus, without her, they lose the intimidation factor. It's like, 'Thank God she's not there.' "
Robinson broke the game open with a 26-5 run over a stretch of 5 minutes 48 seconds of the first half. During that span, the Rams hit four three-pointers and held West Springfield to two field goals.
Junior reserve guard A.J. Carlock (11 points) closed the spurt with three-pointers on three consecutive trips to give the Rams a 30-9 lead with 4:36 to play in the half.
"That was probably as complete a game as we've played against a quality opponent," Robinson Coach Dwight Trimmer said. "Defense hasn't been one of our strengths, but based on tonight, it should become one."