King’s (halftime) speech often propels T.C. to victory

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King’s (halftime) speech often propels T.C. to victory
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Forget about the defensive schemes or the Xs and the Os; T.C. Williams chances at beating Phoebus High School en route to a state championship may rest on a good halftime speech.
    
Slow starts have been the hallmark of the 2010-11 Titans, but strong finishes have kept T.C. from dropping any more than five games this season. Against Annandale in the AAA Northern Region tournament final Monday night, the Titans scored a measly 17 points in the first half. 
    
They emerged from the locker room a different team. Holding an impromptu offensive clinic, the Titans put up 42 points in the final two quarters to seal another regional title for the schools storied basketball program.
    
It wasnt the first time the Titans have waited until the second half to light up the court.
    
Its the [coachs] halftime speech, said senior center Rick Mathews, putting it plainly.
    
Mathews, an emerging offensive force in the postseason, wont go any further than that and neither will his coach.
     
Lets just say I know how to reach them, head coach Julian King said with a chuckle, standing courtside in the Garden during practice earlier this week. 
    
Beyond the nuts and bolts of good basketball setting a pace, playing hard, keeping to assigned roles and mental toughness there are the intangibles, like halftime speeches. 
    
And after the previous seasons disappointing ending, the Titans also have a chip on their shoulder, a black mark to expunge with a state championship. 
    
That T.C. squad fell to conference rival Annandale in the opening round of the Patriot District tournament after an ineligibility scandal cost the team most of their wins and two players one of them a star. 
    
[Winning] feels good after what happened to us last year, Matthews said. After playing through all that adversity it feels good. Were using that as motivation. Every day we step onto the court coach King reminds us.
    
Aside from avenging the previous years campaign, the game plan will not change as the Titans head into the opening round of the state tournament against Phoebus (Hampton, Va.). As long as they play a full four quarters, the Titans have a shot at another state title, said senior forward Jamal Pullen. 
    
I think we have a good chance of winning if we play hard and play our roles, he said. Everybody needs to do what the coaches say. I believe if we play all four quarters hard well come out on top.
    
Phoebus is one of five teams to cool down T.C. this season. When the two squads met for a nonconference game in January, the Hampton-based Phantoms left the court celebrating a 48-41 win against T.C. 
    
The Titans were out of character, Pullen said. 
    
It was a good game and in the third quarter we sped up when we should have slowed down, he said. 
    
King offered a similar analysis. Combine a revved up Phantom defense with a few Titan mistakes and T.C. fell into a hole too deep to climb out. 
    
Those guys convert on all of your mistakes, King said. Hopefully well be more under control and keep our composure.
    
And then there are the intangibles again, the knowledge that a loss now will cut a memorable potentially historic season short. 
    
I just dont like the feeling of losing, said Mathews. I know if we lose in the playoffs, we go home.

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