The buzzer had barely sounded at Coolidge High School on Saturday night when the H.D. Woodson girls' basketball team rushed to midcourt and celebrated their 54-53, come-from-behind victory over Theodore Roosevelt in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament title game. The Warriors jumped, screamed, laughed and simultaneously yanked championship T-shirts over their heads in celebration.
The Warriors had defeated a previously unbeaten Roosevelt team, one that was ranked No. 2 in the Washington area. Their reward: a date with No. 1 -- Bishop McNamara -- in the City Title Game on Friday at George Washington's Smith Center at 6:30 p.m.
"Everybody has been counting us out from the beginning, and this is no different," said H.D. Woodson Coach Bob Headen, whose team lost five of its first seven games but currently has a nine-game winning streak. "We're just going to show up and play the best that we can. Bishop McNamara's got an all-American team, we understand that. We're going to have to play smart against them. They are a good team, well-coached and have the best talent in the area . . . but anybody's beatable. Anything can happen in a game."
H.D. Woodson (18-8) is one of only two D.C. public school teams to have won the City Title Game in its 13-year history. The Warriors, who have appeared in the game a record eight times, claimed the championship in 1990 and 1992. Anacostia won the title in 2000.
"Of all the teams I've had, this one has played as more of a team than any of the others, because there are no standout stars," said Headen, whose leading scorer, guard Charli Jackson (12.8 points per game), transferred from Carroll eight games ago. "Every game, someone different steps up. I just hope that we can put something together and try to beat McNamara."
It's a task 31 other teams have tried and failed this season. The Mustangs (31-5) won their first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship early last week with a victory over St. John's. They then defeated St. John's again, 86-64, in the Bishop Walsh tournament final in Cumberland, Md. McNamara has won 20 straight games.
"I was kind of surprised to hear that H.D. Woodson won, but then again, they are a good team, and it is tough to beat a team twice in one year," said acting McNamara coach Robert Surratt, whose team defeated St. John's in all four meetings this season. "But all we can worry about is ourselves because our goal at the beginning of the year was to be city champions, and if we lose, everything we did was for nothing."
-- Angela Watts and Jon Gallo