West Springfield standout Logan Battle stood in agony near half court at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center with the Spartans’ season on the line. The junior forward suffered injuries to both ankles during the game, a AAA state semifinal matchup against Stonewall Jackson, and was trying to play through the pain.
Junior point guard April Robinson walked over to her struggling teammate and offered words of encouragement. Robinson and Battle, the 1-2 punch that had carried the Spartans this far, stood next to one another with one quarter remaining in the contest. Unfortunately for West Springfield, Battle couldn’t continue and was helped off the floor.
"I just wanted her to suck it up," Robinson said. "Obviously, she couldn’t."
With Battle out of the game, Stonewall Jackson had its way. The Raiders outscored the Spartans 15-5 in the fourth quarter en route to a 47-42 victory on March 9. West Springfield ended its season in the state semifinals for the second consecutive season. The Spartans’ final record was 28-2, with both losses coming against Stonewall Jackson.
A jumper by Jordan Miller gave West Springfield a 39-32 lead early in the fourth quarter. But Stonewall responded with an 11-0 run to take control.
With Battle, a 5-foot-10 athlete being recruited by Georgetown, on the bench, momentum shifted to the Raiders.
"Personally, I don’t think we lose with Logan," West Springfield head coach Bill Gibson said. "We don’t lose that game. … I think we had the game, I really do. The kids felt confident, they felt good about what we were doing, felt good about things. But if you take [away] a 5-foot-10-inch kid whose got the reach of Michael Jordan and makes it tough passing and doing other things for the other team, [it hurts]. And, we lost that along with [her] rebounding and scoring."
Robinson led the Spartans with 12 points. Miller scored 10 points and Battle and freshman Amy Berglund each added eight.
The good news for West Springfield is the Spartans will return seven of the eight players who saw action against Stonewall, including four of five starters. Robinson said the Spartans were more relaxed during their second consecutive trip to the final four and the team will work to get back.
Senior Nora Osei played her final game for the Spartans.
"They’ve been an excellent group of girls," Gibson said. "They’ve played hard. Some of the kids have really grown up. Probably the biggest thing is maturity that they developed over the years. Some of the younger players have really matured. April and Logan have matured a whole lot from the beginning of the season to where we are now about understanding more about the game and game control. They’ve grown immensely. It’s just a shame to lose somebody down here in a tight game like this that’s one of your key players, which [Battle] is. Her and April are obviously the two key players and either one of them goes out and we’re a different team."