Tuesday, March 11, 2008

T.C. Williams/Petersburg

Titans Are One Win Away From Some History
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 12, 2008; E05

RICHMOND, March 11 -- The body-checks backfired. After T.C. Williams senior Anthony Winbush had his left-handed layup rejected with less than five seconds left in the first half of Tuesday night's 63-46 Virginia AAA semifinal victory over Petersburg, he smiled as he strutted through a gauntlet of opposing bodies.

Three Petersburg players delivered checks to Winbush's chest with their shoulders -- including 6-foot-8 junior Cadarian Raines, who added a few extra words to go along with his vicious block that brought many of the 6,000 at Virginia Commonwealth's Siegel Center to their feet.

"I was calm," said Winbush, who absorbed each blow, and then pointed over Raines's left shoulder, mouthing the words "scoreboard."

The digits didn't lie -- T.C. Williams led 27-23 at the time, and things only got worse for Petersburg in the second half. Winbush scored eight of his 19 points during a 21-10 second-quarter run that helped No. 3 T.C. Williams (28-3) overcome a seven-point first-quarter deficit.

"It might be the last game we play," said Winbush, who added eight points in the third quarter as T.C. Williams outscored Petersburg 41-21 in the second and third quarters to earn a berth in Friday's 8:45 p.m. final against Bethel (30-1).

T.C. Williams will be looking to end the Virginia AAA Northern Region's 27-year title drought since Lee won it all in 1981. The Titans are the eighth Northern Region team to make the final since 1981.

"Winbush, he's the brains of our team.Travis Berry is the confidence," said Titans Coach Ivan Thomas, who watched as the 6-7 Winbush combined with Berry for 18 of the Titans' 20 third-quarter points.

Berry hit four three-pointers en route to his game-high 20 points to help the Titans back after a first quarter in which they committed six turnovers, shot 3 for 14 from the field, were 0 for 4 from behind the three-point line, missed both free throw attempts and lost Winbush to two early fouls less than three minutes into the game.

Winbush came off the bench with 3 minutes 38 seconds left in the second quarter and scored eight points, hauled in three rebounds, and added an assist, continuing a decisive second-quarter run that started with two deep three-pointers from Berry.

The Titans, which held Petersburg (27-4) 12 points under its previous season low (58), were never again threatened, nursing at least a 10-point lead for the rest of the game.

"In this tournament, we are going to rest our hat on defense," said Thomas, whose Titans have allowed an average of 40.6 points through nine playoff games.

No. 3 T.C. Williams 63 Petersburg 46

Up Next: T.C. Williams will face Eastern Region champion Bethel at 8:45 p.m. Friday in the championship game at Siegel Center. The Bruins, which downed Central Region champion John Marshall, 65-55, in yesterday's other semifinal, have won 29 straight games.

Titan Defense: T.C. Williams has held four of its nine playoff opponents to their season - low.

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