They're Back: Spartans Capture District Title

They're Back: Spartans Capture District Title

West Springfield girls end four-year title drought with 44-38 win over South County.

West Springfield sophomore Jordan Miller dreamed of Spartan basketball glory long before she ever donned the school's blue and orange colors.

"Ever since I was in seventh grade and saw West Springfield play, I wanted to be here with the team and do something big," Miller said.

On Feb. 22 at T.C. Williams, Miller played her role in that moment, scoring 10 points in the girls' 44-38 victory over South County in the Patriot District finals.

"It feels good to have accomplished my goal," Miller said.

A mix of gritty defensive play and offensive bursts from sophomore April Robinson, Miller and Logan Battle helped defeat a physical and defensive-minded South County team.

The win didn't come without some bumps in the road.

West Springfield trailed South County 19-16 after the first half, but opportunistic play by Robinson and the Spartans helped West Springfield regain the lead in the third quarter.

"The girls wanted to pick up the tempo of the game," head coach Bill Gibson said. "The girls wanted to pressure more, so that's what we did."

The pressure worked, and in the fourth quarter South County tried to play catch-up with West Springfield's dynamic offense.

The Spartans then went on to weather South County's late comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, holding a lead that had been cut to as few as two points with a minute to play.

Gibson said the game had all the makings of a classic West Springfield and South County bout.

"Every South County game is tough to get by in," he said. "They're a very good defensive team and very physical."

Much like Miller dreamed of competing for a district title, Robinson said it's been a team goal to reach the finals, but she's looking for a trifecta of championships.

"Ever since the first practice this season, we have been talking about going all the way," she said. "Our goal is to win district, regionals and states. Now, we'll worry about the region."

Winning the region won't be easy. One of the top teams is Edison, which won the National District by thrashing Mount Vernon 84-45. Robinson said she's not intimidated.

"We can go all the way," she said. "We just have to work together and not give up. It's all in the heart. If we want it that bad, we can get whatever we want."

The last time West Springfield's girls won a district title was in 2006, Gibson said.

"Before that we had won a few in a row," Gibson said. "Then we had a bit of an exodus, but we're back."

The district title caps off an impressive season that saw the girls win 12 consecutive games before entering the district tournament on Feb. 19. West Springfield's record is now 21-1.

The Spartans suffered their last loss on Dec. 30 during a holiday tournament.

Gibson credited his team’s impeccable camaraderie for the successful season.

"They get along and the team chemistry is really good," Gibson said. "They play hard and they're determined."

West Springfield will begin the quest for a Northern Region title on Feb. 24 against Hayfield.