WOODBRIDGE — Kathy Clark didn’t want to give anyone the wrong impression Friday night. Least of all Potomac.
Woodbridge’s senior center had a reputation to uphold, after all.
She couldn’t go around letting the visiting Panthers believe they’d gotten the best of her in that debacle in Dumfries four weeks ago — even if the memory of that three-point loss was, admittedly, a sore spot with Clark and her teammates.
“That game really bothered us. We knew we didn’t play well that night,” Clark said. “The simple fact that they beat us fired us up.”
If the Vikings played with a little more passion than they have in any other game this season, that was the reason. Appropriately, it was Clark who ignited the spark.
Held to a season-low five points in a forgettable performance at Potomac, Clark issued a reminder that things aren’t always the way they appear when the regional rivals met for the second time — this time on the Vikings’ turf. After swatting the opening tipoff to point guard Kristin Portell for a breakaway layup, Clark went on to score a game-high 22 points to lead Woodbridge to an emphatic 60-45 victory.
“Them coming out thinking they could shut me down because they did last time made me play harder,” said Clark, who finished the night with 15 rebounds, five assists, four steals and six blocked shots.
Clark’s determination carried over to the rest of the Vikings, who led from start to finish and extended their winning streak to five games behind 12 points from guard Liana Wooten and a tenacious defensive effort.
“We didn’t give anywhere near this effort the last time we played,” Clark said after Woodbridge held the Panthers to 18 first-half points on its way to improving to 14-3.
“We came out with a little more intensity. That was the difference in the game,” Portell explained.
Intensity has fueled the Vikings’ recent surge. They’ve won seven of eight since losing at Potomac on Jan. 4 and once again resemble the aspiring state-tournament squad that opened the year with six straight wins.
“This is like the Duke-Florida State thing,” Portell continued. “We knew we were a lot better than that. We want to go to state and we know that can’t happen without high intensity.”
Friday’s rematch was such a mismatch that the fading Panthers were never really competitive. Woodbridge opened up a 17-5 lead in the opening quarter and was completely in command well before halftime.
In addition to 12 points, Wooten dished out six assists. Forward Diana Martinez scored 10 points and Portell added six points, three steals, three assists and four rebounds.
Guard April Henderson came off the bench to score six points, while guard Jennifer Woodie was largely responsible for shutting out Potomac scoring leader Tiffany Jenkins in the first half.
Jenkins led the Panthers (12-5) with 11 points, but the Vikings held center Erica Dabney to seven points and guard Alexis Martin to just four. Potomac, which produced only six field goals in the first half, has lost four of its last seven games following a 9-1 start.
The Vikings have gone in the other direction and looked nothing like the squad that scored a season-low 43 points at Potomac. Woodbridge had that many points — and a 20-point lead — with three minutes left in the third quarter on Friday.
“We executed,” Woodbridge coach George Washington said. “At the beginning of the season I said if we execute we can play with anyone. That’s what happened tonight.”