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Spartans Capture First Region Title Since 2004

West Springfield beats T.C. Williams for fourth time this season.

April Robinson floated a pass toward the baseline late in the first half of Monday’s Northern Region championship game against T.C. Williams. The errant toss missed its intended target and sailed out of bounds for turnover.

After committing a rare mistake, West Springfield’s standout point guard headed toward midcourt to compose herself. She bent over, placed her hands on her knees and took a second to catch her breath. Moments later, Robinson, eager to make amends for her miscue, darted toward Titans guard Sade’ Barber, who was awaiting the in-bounds pass. T.C. senior Jasmine Norman prepared to in-bound the ball when she noticed Robinson approaching. Realizing a pass would likely be stolen, Norman held onto the ball, but lost her balance and was whistled for a violation, returning the ball to the Spartans.

"I made a mistake and I wanted to make up for it and I think I did," Robinson said. "I think a lot of us made mistakes and we picked it up on either offense or defense."

West Springfield’s final step toward a Northern Region title wasn’t easy. Three days after defeating defending champion Oakton in the semifinals, the Spartans had to avoid a letdown against a Titans team they had already beaten three times. West Springfield committed 19 turnovers and produced its third-lowest offensive output of the season. But much like Robinson’s hustle play, the Spartans found ways to overcome their mistakes.

West Springfield captured its first region championship since 2004 with a 46-41 victory over T.C. Williams on Feb. 28 at Robinson Secondary School. The Titans trailed by three points with less than 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but Robinson buried a floater and Logan Battle knocked down a pair of free throws to secure the win.

On Feb. 25, in a battle of one-loss teams, West Springfield defeated Oakton 66-51 to earn a berth in the state tournament. On Monday, the Spartans struggled against a team it beaten twice during the regular season and a third time in the Patriot District championship game by an average of 16 points.

"This was a tough game to play after the high emotions on Friday night," West Springfield head coach Bill Gibson said. "A game after a high-emotion game, you always worry about a letdown, but they did what they had to do."

Robinson led West Springfield (27-1) with 19 points, including seven in the final period. Freshman Amy Berglund scored 13 points.

"My mom even [said], ‘You guys need to make sure you play hard this game,’" Berglund said. "It was definitely hard because Oakton was such an exciting game."

T.C. cut the West Springfield lead to three points on four occasions during the final period, but couldn’t get over the hump.

While West Springfield struggled offensively, the Spartans, led by Logan Battle, blocked numerous Titan field goal attempts. West Springfield managed just 19 first-half points, but entered halftime with a six-point lead.

Battle finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

"She stepped up the last couple games." Gibson said of Battle. "She’s been huge, doing it on the boards, on offense. Just every bit of what you need, she’s there doing it."

West Springfield will face Woodside, the Eastern Region runner-up, on Friday, March 4, at 7 p.m., at Robinson in the opening round of the state tournament. Last season, the Spartans reached the state semifinals.

While several Spartans have state playoff experience, winning a region title was a first for the entire roster. After Monday’s win against T.C., West Springfield players cut down one of the nets in celebration, an act made possible through focus and determination.

"When you start playing teams over and over again, you start knowing their players [and] their plays," Robinson said. "It’s kind of hard and you’ve just got to be the bigger team and come out harder."