The first half didn’t go very well for Woodbridge against Hylton Tuesday night. Courtney Coffer’s team got in extreme foul trouble, with the Bulldogs getting to the line 18 times before Woodbridge did once. Hylton forward Nate Arrington was pounding Woodbridge on the boards, and the Bulldogs enjoyed a double-digit lead late in the second quarter.
Forced to go 11 deep, Coffer’s bench responded to the challenge. The Woodbridge reserves cut the Hylton lead to 38-35 by half, then the Vikings came out and played a much better second half. The result was an important 72-68 victory that put Woodbridge in sole possession of second place in the Cardinal District behind Potomac.
“The first half we were just disappointed because we normally play defense with a lot more energy,” said Coffer, whose team gave up 21 first quarter points. “We didn’t start the game that way–we played so low energy. But then we talked about it at halftime and started to pick up the energy.”
It showed as the Vikings forced more turnovers and got in transition. Potent guards junior Shane Feden and senior Jelani Wingate got it going as well. Feden scored 11 second half points while Wingate, saddled to the bench for most of the first half with three fouls, scored all 10 of his points after intermission.
“We told him [Wingate] at halftime that there were driving lanes available,” Coffer said. “We just really wanted him to start taking the ball the basket and he was successful.”
It was still a battle down the stretch. The game was tied at 63 with 2:07 left when Feden was fouled on a three-point shot. He only made one free throw, but on the Vikings’ next offensive possession Wingate found one of those driving lanes and scored on a quick lay-up to make it 66-63.
Then the Vikings forced another turnover as Kai Bowers intercepted a Bulldog pass. Bowers missed a shot, but three offensive rebounds later Feden finally converted to make it 68-63. The home team narrowed it to a one possession game–only to see Woodbridge’s defense force another turnover.
That essentially ended things. Feden finished with a game-high 17 points, leading five Vikings in double figures. Bowers added 14, while Mekhi Mims, Wingate, and Naz Armstrong all contributed 10. Armstrong led the bench scoring and while guys like Kyre Duplessis, Dylan Simmons, Curtis Collins, Christian Blaine, and Damon Price, Jr. didn’t light up the box score, their solid play, especially in the second quarter, was a big key to the victory.
For Hylton (6-4, 9-11), Arrington had an outstanding game with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Fellow junior Courtenay Houston had a good game off the bench with 16 points, while senior forward Gregory Maddux-Velez added 13.
It was a hard-fought win for the Vikings (7-3, 12-8) in the rapidly improving Cardinal. Now, Coffer’s team is starting to think about the long game, getting through districts and doing some damage at regionals.
“Every game [in the Cardinal] is like this, there’s a dogfight every single night,” Coffer said. “As much as I try to figure out why we’re in these type of games, I realize it’s helping us. Because when the playoffs and the regional tournament start, every game is like this.”
all stats are unofficial
|Threes: Garnett 2-2, Toman 1-1, Maddux-Velez 1-3, Houston 1-3, Adams 0-2, Artis 0-4|
|Threes: Feden 3-6, Bowers 3-13, Armstrong 1-1, Simmons 0-1, Duplessis 0-1|