Taft Gantt ’20
After starting the season 5-5, the Tigers finished the season strong by winning their last five games to end the regular season 11-9. With the strong finish, Woodberry claimed the three seed in the Prep League tournament and will host Fork Union Tuesday, February 20.
The biggest win of the season came when the Tigers hosted St. Chris in a white-out at the historic Dick Gym. Woodberry lost to the Saints earlier in the season 68-55 and was eager to get revenge over its rival. The Tigers entered the game 9-9 and needed a win to help their case for making the state playoffs. Led by Max Johns’ 25 points, the Tigers ended their eight year losing streak to St. Chris as the entire student section stormed the court to celebrate the 52-48 win.
“It was really fun to play in,” said sixth-form captain Johns. “We played well and controlled the tempo of the entire game. We don’t really like them as an athletic opponent, so it felt really good finally beating them. ”
Woodberry fell into a slump losing games to Saint-Anne’s Belfield, Collegiate, and Trinity Episcopal to start the second half of the season. The Tigers then beat Christchurch at home 44-38 and after another loss to Collegiate fell to 6-9. Woodberry’s hopes of making the state playoffs began to fade away as they were in desperate need of a late-season push.
“After the loss to Collegiate,” said head coach Craig Dawson. “I laid out what could be for the rest of the season. I told the team if they would just buy-in and trust what we said, we still had a shot to finish as high as third in the league. I’m not sure they truly believed me at the time, but they did start to buy-in and trust a lot more. We took more pride and put forth more effort during shooting drills at practice and talked more on the defensive end.”
The Tigers went on to end the season on a five game winning streak with wins over John Paul the Great, Norfolk Academy, St. Anne’s Belfield, St. Chris, and FUMA.
“Also, I think our seniors realized the season is almost over,” added Dawson “And they wanted to make the most of it. Reality tends to set in quickly and the sense of urgency increases. Finally, I think we’ve just gotten better at the right time. Every coach wants his/her team to play their best at the end of the season. I can truly say, this team fits the mold.”
Max Johns led the team in all categories this season with 19.2 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, and 2.5 assists per games. Johns, who committed to Princeton earlier this season, had nine double-doubles this year.
The Tigers will look to continue their momentum as they head into the Prep League tournament. Woodberry is the three seed and will host FUMA, a team they have already beat twice this year.
“We need to stay hungry and continue to play with a chip on our shoulder,” said Dawson. “We are a better team when we’re aggressive and feel as though we’re an underdog. We still have goals to reach this season and they are well within our grasp. More importantly, the team needs to continue to enjoy the journey. The destination is wonderful, but it means nothing if you don’t enjoy it along the way.”