Champions have more fun


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DALE CITY — The team that coach Andy Gray calls the “most fun group” from his 10 seasons at Gar-Field can now also call itself a champion.

Tuesday night, the Indians seized their second Cardinal District Tournament title in three years by beating Woodbridge, last year’s tourney winner and this year’s regular-season champion, by a 49-43 score. Freshman guard Calvin Booth’s four 3-pointers were instrumental in the victory for the third-seeded host team.

Gar-Field (15-8) earned the privilege of staying at home for Saturday’s first-round Group AAA, Northwest Region quarterfinal against Patrick Henry-Roanoke. Meanwhile, the Vikings (16-9) will travel to South Boston to meet Halifax County.

“I think these kids have overachieved all year,” Gray said. “When our starters are introduced, they give them all about five inches. Kirsten McCane’s supposedly 6-foot-4 and Chris Doss 6-foot, but I don’t think they’re 6-4 if you put Chris on top of Kirsten’s shoulders.”

In the school’s fifth Cardinal tournament-final win in 11 years, the only freshman on either side was one of the most clutch competitors. Booth, a 5-foot-10 player one year removed from Fred Lynn Middle School’s lineup, scored 12 points. His last two baskets gave the Indians leads of 41-37 and 46-38 in the final quarter.

“What an incredible, gutsy performance from a freshman,” Gray said, with a wide smile on his face. “He’s been very mature, but he hadn’t had that breakout game until tonight. All season, he’s been sharp, solid and steady.”

While Doss was hampered by a hurt knee, foot and back, Booth moved from his usual shooting-guard spot to the point for much of the night. The 12 points gave him his first high school double-digit outing, and he added three assists.

“It was just my turn,” Booth said. “I feel it was [a breakout game] but I need to have a lot more. The team has been asking me to shoot more, so when I got open tonight I took the shots.”

Fellow guard Chris Vann, a junior who averages 21 points per game, scored 19 on Tuesday night. He has been on the Indians’ varsity team since his freshman year, but he said Booth “is better than I was as a freshman. Right now, he’s a better shooter than I was, plus he can handle the ball better than I could because I was making the move from power forward after middle school.”

For Woodbridge, which beat Gar-Field in both regular-season meetings, junior guard Dan Fountain scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. Gar-Field senior Dee Howard helped limit his production in the second half.

With 20 seconds left, Fountain missed a 23-footer that could have tied the game at 46. Vann then made three of four free throws to close the scoring.

In the first half, the teams combined to make 13 shots from 3-point range (seven for the Vikings). In the second half, two of the three 3-pointers belonged to Booth with 6:14 and 4:26 remaining in the game.

“When you can hit a couple of shots, that certainly helps,” Woodbridge coach Will Robinson said. “On that last one [of Booth’s four 3-pointers], you could tell he was feeling it. That one was from NBA range.”

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