Saturday, March 15, 2008

T.C. Williams Win Championship

T.C. Williams Has Championship Mix
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, March 15, 2008; E07

RICHMOND, March 14 -- T.C. Williams Coach Ivan Thomas has often referred to his best three players -- Travis Berry, Anthony Winbush and Edward Jenkins -- with praised-packed pet names that highlight their personalities and abilities.

Winbush is the team's brains.

"He knows everything that I want done," Thomas said.

Jenkins is the team's heart.

"No matter what's going on, you are going to see him play hard," Thomas said.

And Berry, the Titans' top three-point shooter, "is the confidence," Thomas said. "If [his shot] is off, it's the ball's fault or the rim moved."

The Titans used a combination of brains, heart and confidence as Winbush, Jenkins and Berry combined for 59 points in a 70-57 Virginia AAA boys' basketball championship victory over Bethel of Hampton at Siegel Center -- a victory that brought the Virginia AAA Northern Region its first state boys' title in 27 years.

Since Lee last won it all in 1981, seven Northern Region teams had fallen in the final. During that span, the Eastern Region compiled 14 titles and the Central and Northwest each captured six.

"It means a lot to bring [the title] back to Northern Virginia," said Thomas, who fell to his knees in celebration at the final buzzer while members of the team held up their customary diamond-shaped hand-signal to the crowd of about 7,000. "A diamond is forever, and that's what that means. We created a dynasty and we will keep doing this. The dynasty will continue."

Before the Titans' victory, Potomac -- which beat Kecoughtan, 62-53, in the 1995 final -- was the last true Northern Virginia school to win a AAA boys' title.

"There were no ifs, no buts," said Jenkins, who scored seven of his 22 points during a first-quarter run that put the Titans up 19-11. "We told [coach] we were going to win states, and we did."

Berry (game-high 23 points) hit two of his five three-pointers during the momentum-grabbing first-quarter stretch, and Winbush (14 points) ran wild early, scoring a deep game-opening three-pointer and a half-court buzzer-beater that gave the Titans a 48-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

T.C. Williams (29-3) led the entire game and was up by 19 points in the final 21 minutes.

Many other unheralded Titans players contributed to end Bethel's 29-game winning streak and make T.C. Williams -- which won its last state title in 1977 -- the Northern Region's only two-time state boys' champion.

Titans senior Tomas Camara (two points, five rebounds) battled Bethel's 6-foot-7, Clemson-bound forward Mbai Goto Olivier (19 points), and Titans senior Joshua Jordan scored four of his six points during a 13-7 second-quarter run that put T.C. Williams up 32-18 at halftime.

Six Titans players scored, and T.C. Williams's smothering defense forced 20 turnovers and held the Bruins to 37 percent (20 for 53) shooting.

Olivier, Jontel Evans (11 points) and Brown University-bound forward Bill Weaver (14 points) all scored in double figures for the Bruins (30-2), who won the rebounding battle 40-28.

But the Titans sustained their postseason dominance, finishing their tournament run with an average margin of victory of 19.2 points per game. They also held four postseason opponents below their previous season-low point total.

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