Vikings off to good start

WOODBRIDGE — Long before the season began, the girls basketball grapevine was buzzing with talk about the Woodbridge Vikings.

In Prince William County, and probably many regions beyond, there is already a consensus opinion. The Vikings, a team with virtually every key player returning from last season, are the team to beat in the Northwest Region.

Judging from Woodbridge’s 2-0 start to the 2001-02 season, the preseason hype appears to be right on the mark. Senior guard Liana Wooten scored 24 points Tuesday night and the Vikings used a smothering pressure defense to defeat North Stafford, 60-41.

“A lot of people are saying that we’re supposed to be good, but that’s just talk,” Wooten said. “We’re just going out and playing hard.”

The Vikings had the look of a team with serious postseason aspirations in their second blowout victory of the year. Senior center Kathy Clark and junior Diana Martinez scored nine points each as Woodbridge snapped the Wolverines’ three-game winning streak. Just three nights after they began the year with an 80-38 win over Cave Spring, the Vikings opened up a 23-9 lead and handed North Stafford its first loss.

“It gave us a good feeling, but I hope the girls don’t get too overconfident,” Woodbridge coach George Washington said. “Sometimes it looked like midseason and sometimes it looked like preseason.”

There were occasions when it even looked like the postseason. The Vikings used a similar game plan to defeat North Stafford 60-44 in last year’s Northwest Region Tournament.

The Wolverines came to town hoping to narrow the gap a bit. They’d already beaten one Cardinal District team — Gar-Field — and averaged 50.3 points per game at the Adelphia Classic in Albemarle.

Tierra Bumbrey and Leilani Crumpton scored 13 points each against the Vikings, but North Stafford trailed from the opening tip. Kristen Portell grabbed the tip off and made a half-court pass to Wooten for an uncontested layup and Woodbridge quickly built a 14-4 advantage against the Wolverines’ zone defense.

With Gar-Field coach Larry Baker, Potomac coach Mike Adkins and several members of the Hylton girls team in attendance, the Vikings used a full-court press to score the first 13 points of the second quarter.

“We have a lot to work on. We’re not anywhere near where we need to be, but it’s a good start,” Wooten said. “We’re looking forward to the season.”

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