WOODBRIDGE — Jackie Dickriede figures that winning comes down to two things for the Woodbridge girls basketball team: Ballhandling and desire.
The Vikings backed that notion up on Saturday night with one of their more inspiring performances and are once again tied for first place in the Cardinal District.
Forward Whitney Allen scored 17 points, point guard April Henderson finished with 14 and Woodbridge extended its winning streak to seven games with a 52-47 victory over No. 1-ranked Forest Park.
“We knew we could do it and we had to come out strong,” Dickriede said. “That’s us. We made sure we had intensity coming out and we focused on executing.”
The Vikings have said all year long that when they hold onto the basketball they can play with anybody. That includes Forest Park.
After committing 34 turnovers in a 35-30 loss to the Bruins last month, Woodbridge knocked down 21 field goals against the area’s best defensive team and handed Forest Park its first loss in 19 games this season.
A pair of 3-pointers — one from guard Elizabeth Murphy from the left sideline and another by Henderson from the right side — sparked a game-opening 15-2 scoring run as the Vikings improved to 17-3 overall and 3-1 in the Cardinal District.
“We were ready to play. We wanted to show people we can play better than we did last time,” Henderson said. “It was important for us to get out early so we were confident in the beginning.”
The Vikings rarely lack confidence. They wear warmup tee-shirts with the words ‘Fear No One’ emblazoned on the back and, with their reputation as a state power hinging on Saturday’s outcome, the Vikings proved they are still worthy of a place among the state’s top-10.
“We came out tough,” Vikings coach George Washington said. “They wanted it. This is the time, in my opinion, when you have to peak.”
Truth be told, the Vikings probably haven’t peaked yet. They played last night’s game without forward Chinyere Ukoh, who sprained her left ankle during the afternoon shoot around, and guard Tiffany Gaskins, who has been sick all week.
Even Dickriede was favoring a sore ankle, but she still came up with a big first-quarter basket to fuel the Vikings quick start.
“We didn’t want to get into a running game with them,” she said. “Our goal was to make them work on defense and we did that.”
The Bruins spent most of their energy chasing Henderson, who avoided the foul trouble that forced her out of the lineup the first time the two teams played. With their senior playmaker controlling the ball and the tempo, the Vikings opened up a 31-19 halftime lead.
“I’m the point guard and I have to control things out on the court,” Henderson said. “It was important for me personally to be out there.”
It was important for Allen, too. The Bruins held her to 4 points back on Jan. 10, but this time she had eight field goals, five rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.
Allen and Henderson combined for 31 points, while freshman center Ariene Jenkins had eight points. The Vikings also received a pivotal 3-point play from guard Jordan Parsels, five assists from forward Diana Martinez and another terrific defensive effort from Faith Blackshear.
“Woodbridge is a tough team. They have three seniors and they have an experience we can’t compete with,” Forest Park coach Chrissy Kelly said. “They outplayed us tonight.”
Even after being thoroughly outplayed for three quarters, the Bruins created a few suspenseful moments down the stretch.
That’s what top-ranked teams do.
Guard DeCarol Davis and freshman Monica Wright scored 10 points each, while center Brenan Richards contributed 8 points in a gritty effort that seemed to inspire her teammates in the second half.
Forest Park trailed by 11 points at the end of the third quarter, but guard Whitney French popped in a 3-pointer, Richards banked in a short jumper and Davis turned a steal into a layup. Before the Vikings knew it, the Bruins were within 42-38.
“It made the game more fun and more exciting,” Allen said. “They’re a good team. We expected them to come back. We just had to make sure they didn’t get the lead.”
“The clock was on our side,” Dickriede explained.
Just barely. Woodbridge needed a pair of free throws from Henderson in the final 13.2 seconds to finally stave off the Bruins, who fell to 18-1 overall and 3-1 in district play.
“You can’t taking nothing away from those kids. Chrissy does a great job with them,” Washington said. “If both of us do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll see each other again [in a district playback game] next Saturday.”
HYLTON 47, GAR-FIELD 45: Jasmine Byrd scored a team-high 17 points and Shareka Purnell added 12 as Hylton held off homestanding Gar-Field. Jessica Peters hit 10 of 12 free throws on her way to a game-high 18 points to keep the Indians close.