Not fractured bones, nor seasonal influenza, nor a mass exodus of senior experience could trap Woodgrove.
Myriad opportunities to quit arose during a four-win season, but the Wolverines (4-19, 4-15 AA Dulles District) persevered. A 57-54 victory over Park View (4-19, 3-16) on Feb. 5 created a tie for the eighth spot in the league standings and set up a rematch in a Saturday tiebreaker at Tuscarora.
Woodgrove overcame a six-point deficit to defeat the Patriots, 61-51, and capture the eighth and final seed for this week’s Dulles District tournament.
“We’re there,” Coach Steve Douglas said. “We’re not sitting at home thinking about playing; we are playing.”
Woodgrove hurdled a bevy of obstacles to extend its season.
The team lost a player to a broken leg before the before the first practice. Then it lost Matt Gilson to a broken hand in January.
Josh Sweet, a junior leader and the only Wolverine to tally significant minutes last year, missed three games while recovering from two bouts of the flu.
Brad Gilson — who topped the 1,000 point mark in two seasons before signing on to play at Columbia — departed along with 10 other seniors from last year’s roster.
Through it all, Douglas applied the same philosophy he’ll preach in the postseason.
“The old saying is, ‘survive and advance,’” he said.
The Feb. 5 win over Park View represented a breakthrough for Woodgrove, which strung together improved performances in losses leading into that contest.
Woodgrove led Tuscarora 23-15 at halftime on Feb. 1, but lost by seven points. The Wolverines led 48-44 at the end of the third quarter at Briar Woods on Feb. 4, but fell five points short.
Traveling to Park View the next day, Woodgrove had a chance to save its season and force a tie in the standings, and Douglas’s preparation reflected the scenario.
Before every game, the coach spells out three goals for the offense and three for the defense. Pleased with his team’s defensive development, Douglas kept his mandates simple that night. He asked sophomore Davie Wick to read aloud.
“Don’t change a thing. Don’t change a thing. Don’t change a thing,” Wick read.
He went on to lead the team with 13 points in a sustaining win for Woodgrove.
Fast forward to Saturday, when Woodgrove survived a win-or-go-home scenario and earned a game against No. 19 Potomac Falls (20-3, 17-2) on Monday. The Panthers won their own one-game playoff against Loudoun Valley to break a tie for the tournament’s top seed.
Potomac Falls beat Woodgrove twice already, and they will try again on Monday, but the sophomore speaker for the Wolverines is not daunted.
“We’re the underdog team,” Wick said. “We’re going to surprise some people.”
AA Dulles District Tournament
Quarterfinals — Monday at higher seeds
No. 8 Woodgrove (4-19, 4-15) at No. 1 Potomac Falls (20-3, 17-2)
No. 7 Dominion (11-11, 8-10) at No. 2 Loudoun Valley (20-3, 16-3)
No. 6 Tuscarora (11-8, 10-6) at No. 3 Heritage (16-6, 12-6)
No. 5 Briar Woods (13-9, 11-7) at No. 4 Loudoun County (15-7, 11-7)
Semifinals — Wednesday at higher seeds
Final — Friday at Tuscarora, 8 p.m.