The Anacostia girls’ basketball team had already sat down to its usual pregame dinner at around 4 p.m. when Coach Dwayne Shackleford got the call. The junior varsity was canceled, so the Indians’ game would be pushed up one hour — to 5 p.m..
He gathered his team and raced to get the squad — not in uniform and with dinner half-eaten — ready and on the hardwood to host fellow DCIAA contender H.D. Woodson.
The quick turnaround only spiked the intensity level of the Indians, who stormed past the Warriors, 59-24, at home to complete a regular-season sweep of the defending league champions.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to adjust,” Shackleford said. “I had to call them and say, ‘Boom, boom let’s get dressed, let’s go through the pregame.’ We had to do everything expedited. But they were ready yesterday.”
It was a meeting the Indians (5-2, 2-1 DCIAA) had focused on all week and much of the last month. The two teams met Dec. 16 at H.D. Woodson, where the Indians snapped the Warriors’ 113-game DCIAA win streak with a six-point victory.
They expected H.D. Woodson (5-4, 4-2) to come out chippy and vengeful Friday evening, but the Warriors held a two-point lead just once early in the first period. Seconds later, Indians point guard Alexis Brown and an Anacostia teammate both dove to the ground for a loose ball, bringing the Indians’ bench to its feet.
“That turned around the game for us,” Shackleford said. “We got a steal and layup right after, and we went up after that and never looked back.”
The Indians needed to prove last month’s upset was no fluke.
“We know that teams see us different,” Brown said. “So we needed to show.”
That meant intensified practices, conditioning workouts and weekend meetings.
“We had to teach these kids how to work hard, and they’re starting to reap the benefits,” Shackleford said. “Now they’re seeing if they compete against each other hard at practice, it’s making our team better.”
Sophomore Asisha Greene led the Indians with a game-high 15 points. But much of the Indians’ success rested on the feisty performance of Brown, a 5-foot-3 senior. She was everywhere on the court — stealing the ball from an unassuming H.D. Woodson player and hitting a three-pointer, then dashing down the court to contain the Warriors’ offense. Brown helped limit freshman forward Jasmine Hatton, who averages 17.6 points per game, to a team-high 13 points for H.D Woodson.
No other Warrior scored more than five points, and the frustration among the team echoed from the bench onto the court, where Woodson trailed by 21 points at the half.
The Indians were left to celebrate on their home court after the final buzzer, holding balloons and cake for a teammate’s birthday and showcasing their dance skills as the boys' team prepared to warm up.