Titans fend off Cavaliers

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Titans fend off Cavaliers
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Coming off of T.C. Williams’ latest win, this time edging W.T. Woodson 63-49 Tuesday night, head coach Julian King still wasn’t happy with his as yet undefeated team’s performance with reason.
    
Lack of hustle, an abundance of turnovers and sluggish play kept an outclassed cavaliers squad in the hunt right up until the third quarter. Though the Titans fell behind only once, and early on in the game, their languid execution made the game the second consecutive matchup T.C.’s struggled to seal the deal.
    
It always seems like we start off slow and then come to life, King said. It’s going to catch up to us eventually.
    
Woodson found the basket first, an achievement T.C.’s been loath to relinquish on their home turf throughout the still young season. The Titans came firing right back, but fouls and turnovers kept the Cavaliers competitive. They ended the first quarter nearly neck-in-neck, 13-10. 
    
It wasn’t to last. The remaining three quarters of play saw T.C. steadily continue to pull away, albeit with the Cavaliers nipping at their heels throughout. But whenever Woodson came within reach, guard Tyrell Sitton and forward Jamal Pullen dragged the T.C. squad out of reach. 
    
We came out a little sluggish, Sitton admitted. We had to hustle, had to work to make the lead increase.
    
It might be becoming a habit. The players get it together and come back to win no matter what the situation, King said, but it’s a dangerous game to keep playing. 
    
There’s a lack of focus, not being strong on the ball, not anticipating traps, not understanding the flow of the game, King said. The way we started the game, lethargic, it’s like the light hasn’t come on.
    
Compared to T.C. squads of the past, this team still struggles on defense and outworking their opponents, he said. The 2010-11 Titans haven’t shown King the performance he believes they’re capable of making heading into the holiday break. The Titans won’t hit the court again until January 7, when they take on a 2-4 Lake Braddock team.
    
Still, the 5-0 Titans boast a perfect record after battle back against Annandale Friday for a 56-50 win, quickly following with a win over Woodson. Despite missed opportunities that might have shelved the Cavaliers earlier on, the Titans plugged away for the victory, with a lot of help from Pullen. 
    
The forward missed the second half of the previous season and has in the words of his coach flown under the radar for much of this year’s campaign. 
    
The 6-foot-5 senior can’t be overlooked any longer. Pullen hosted a 22-point coming out party in the Garden Tuesday, including back-to-back baskets in the third quarter, squelching a seemingly late-game Woodson resurgence.
    
We wanted to get this win, the [Annandale] game was rough, he said. I had a rough couple of games, but I really started to get into a groove [Tuesday].
    
His efforts weren’t missed by King, who had glowing words for both Pullen and Sitton after Tuesday’s matchup. King called Pullen a sleeper who should have stepped into his own last year had his time on the court not been cut short. 
    
If there’s a silver lining to a lost season, it’s given Pullen plenty to make up for. 
    
For this team, I can be a leader, he said. This year I was going to dominate… Last season was a huge motivation.

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