By Jim McElhatton (Photo/Sawyer McElhatton)
The T.C. Williams basketball team started off with an uninspiring 4-5 record. But the Lady Titans ended the regular season Tuesday night on a 13-game winning streak by defeating Annandale.
The 64-47 victory kept the Lady Titans undefeated in 2014, but few were talking about the streak after the game. Instead, the Lady Titans said they’re focused squarely on the playoffs.
“It was part of our New Year’s resolution to find our consistency, and we’ve been able to do that,” said T.C. head coach Kesha Walton, whose squad is ranked among the top 10 regionally. “The key has been the girls’ work ethic and the fact they’ve been gelling together.
“The chemistry has been amazing; they really play for each other. We’re all role players, and we all have to do whatever it takes to win.”
The Lady Titans are waiting to find out when they play next, which all depends on a coin toss with rival West Springfield for the first seed in the playoffs. T.C. won the Patriot League championship last year, but West Springfield was the 2012 champion and always has been a tough rival.
Meanwhile, the box score Tuesday night showed why Annandale, like a lot of teams lately, didn’t have much success defensively against the Lady Titans. The Atoms couldn’t focus on any one T.C. player because they have so many scoring threats.
Angie Schedler finished with 19 points, Rejoice Spivey had 18 and Tykera Carter scored 17. What’s more, the Lady Titans were without another big scorer, Grace Peterson, who is expected to return for the playoffs.
“They’re a good team. They’ve got kids who can penetrate and get to the rim and shoot well,” Atoms coach Patrick Hughes said. “They’ve got some firepower, and we just couldn’t answer.”
Because it was senior night, Annandale started more seniors than usual, which meant a roster big on post players for the home team. The Lady Titans used their speed to exploit matchups and force early turnovers.
Even when the game looked like it had gotten away from the Atoms, T.C. kept up the pressure defensively.
Up 47-31 with a little more than five minutes left in the third quarter, the Atoms rebounded the ball and pushed up the court. But Carter made a leaping play to deflect a pass near the T.C. basket.
While an Atoms player recovered the ball and dribbled toward half court, Carter snuck up from behind for the steal. With a two-on-one matchup, Carter passed to Spivey, who hit an easy layup and was fouled. She made the free throw to nail the three-point play, putting T.C. up 50-31.
The Lady Titans, whose 13-game run began early last month after walloping Hayfield 78-18, know how fragile streaks can be. A few days after the Hayfield game, T.C. faced a North Point team that hadn’t lost in more than a year, entering the matchup with 36 wins in a row.
But fueled by 26 points from Carter, the Lady Titans put an end to North Point’s streak. Walton said the game was a season-changing performance, giving her players a huge shot of confidence.
For now, however, she said it’s time for “February Madness.” And during the playoffs, records don’t matter.
“We’re all 0-0,” Walton said.