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Basketball Teams Dig Out for Post-Season Play

Teams complete two of the previously cancelled games.

The South County boys' basketball team couldn't have asked for a better season. For the first time in school history, the boys were enjoying a winning 14-4 record and looking to ride their momentum to a top spot in the Patriot District tournament.

"We were getting into a routine," head coach Wendell Johnson said.

Then Old Man Winter paralyzed Northern Virginia with a blizzard that closed schools and cancelled the final four games of the Patriot District basketball season.

"It's frustrating," Johnson said. "But we weren't sure what we could do about [playing the rest of the season.]"

Coaches were resigned to the fact the season could not continue under the circumstances and discussions began to try to save the post season.

"Basketball is a tournament game," Johnson said. "We didn't want the season to end without a tournament."

The back-up plans, which included advancing the top two teams from each district based on regular season record to the Northern Region finals in late February, may be shelved.

After a week and a half suspension of high school sports, teams in the Patriot District are lacing up their shoes to pick up where they left off and finish the season by playing two of the final four games.

On Feb. 16, teams resumed district play and finished the season on Feb. 17. The Patriot District tournament follows the season end on Feb. 19.

T.C. Williams will host the Patriot District tournament over the weekend with the girls' finals set for 6 p.m., and the boys' final at 8 p.m. on Feb. 22.

"The [Patriot District Council] did a good job of trying to get some games back," W.T. Woodson boys' basketball coach Doug Craig said. "These kids want to play."

Coaches were thrilled to finish at least two of the previously cancelled four games, but a week spent cooped-up in a house rather than on the court had some cursing the missed practice time.

"We had installed new [offenses before the snow]," Lake Braddock girls' basketball coach Carl Harris said. "We were preparing for the district tournament. ... It was frustrating [to not have games or practice]."

Harris, whose team is 3-13, prepared his team for an extended break.

"I told the girls on Thursday before the snow to get to a court and have a basketball in their hands," he said. "We just had to wait [the snow] out."

To Harris, games lost equaled experience lost, and game-time experience is crucial for his young team.

"When you lose, you can learn something from it," he said. "You learn from the experience of that game."

West Springfield girls' basketball coach Bill Gibson also gave his players a pre-snow warning, asking them to "stay in shape" during the break.

Gibson, whose Lady Spartans' lead the Patriot District girls' table with a 16-1 record, said he wasn't worried that missed practices might hurt his team chemistry, but mentioned the break will give teams new life for the post season.

"[The storm] has given every team a chance to start all over again," he said.