One trip around the Patriot District is all it took for the W.T. Woodson boys' basketball team to get accustomed to their new home.
After dropping four straight district matches to start January, the team is finally beginning to heat up with a recent three-game winning streak.
"It's a little different in this district," senior Max Lenox said. "We play a much more athletic game [in the Patriot District]."
Prior to the 2009-10 season, the Cavaliers (8-9, 4-5 in district play) were accustomed to annual match-ups with Liberty District foes, but a re-alignment of the districts sent the boys and all of Woodson's sports teams to the Patriot District.
"It's a change," Lenox said. "But we're getting used to it."
A four-game losing streak in early January showed the Cavs that they still had a lot to learn about the district’s competitiveness.
"The game here is a lot faster," sophomore guard Mark Noe said. "First time around, we weren't prepared for it."
The team is now showing that it can be a force in the Patriot District, evident by a 68-59 win over district rival Robert E. Lee on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
The victory is the Cavaliers' third district win in a row, a streak which includes wins over West Springfield and Lake Braddock.
"We let a few games get past us," Lenox said. "But now we know we can play with these guys."
The change in district also prompted a minor change in coaching philosophy for head coach Doug Craig.
"This is a league of runs," he said. "Teams get out on 10, 12 point runs and you have to stop that. I've been calling timeouts earlier to control that."
Craig said the transition from the old district to the new hasn't hindered the team's ability to adapt.
"More than anything, it's just a different style of basketball," he said. "The Liberty District is good, but this is more up and down. You have to play more helter-skelter."
While the district has provided new challenges for his teammates, Lenox, who scored 39 points in the victory over Lee, is flourishing. He’s 13 points away from scoring 1,000 career points as a Cavalier.
"I just try to do what my team needs me to do," Lenox said. "If they need me to pass, I will. If they need me to score, I can."
Lenox sat out his junior season with an injury, but his return has been a welcome one for Woodson.
"He's the guy we can look to for scoring," Noe said. "It's good to have that on our team."
Lenox's return might be a boost for the Cavaliers, but the team is still without another one of its stars, John Schoof, who is battling a leg injury and has been sidelined all season.
"It hurts to not have [Schoof] out there with us," Noe said. "But Lenox helps pick up the slack and we're working around [the injury]."
The Cavaliers continue their season with a road game against district opponent T.C. Williams (10-3, 8-0 in district play) on Jan. 29, at 7:45 p.m.