There's no secret about what separates Strawberry Crest from a first-ever trip to the girls basketball playoffs. The Chargers will have to beat Armwood next week in the District 6A-11 semifinals.
What are the odds? Based on what's happened this season, just about 50-50. The teams have split their two meetings.
"It depends on which team of ours shows up," said La'Tosha Lewis, who has coached the Chargers for all of their four years. "We're coming in on a high, though."
That they are: Since a 17-point loss to top district seed Sickles on Dec. 15, Strawberry Crest went on a 7-1 stretch with the only loss coming by a point in double overtime to Academy of the Holy Names.
And while the Chargers are starting to get more contributions from their entire lineup, junior captain Aliyah Gregory has been leading the way. Gregory is among the county's top players, averaging more than 22 points per game.
Sophomore Maiya Trigg would be the top scorer on a lot of other teams, averaging 17 points. Lewis knows those two will have to keep things going if the Chargers plan on playing past next week.
"Both of those girls know our success depends on them," Lewis said. "Aliyah is a natural scorer but she's also a floor leader."
Gregory had 19 points the last time Strawberry Crest played Armwood, a wild 40-37 win on Dec. 19. Armwood outscored the Chargers 17-1 in the second quarter to take a 20-11 halftime lead.
Armwood had won by 16 in late November.
Hence the "depends on which team shows up" line from Lewis.
The good news is Strawberry Crest has been its best version lately, and that goes beyond Gregory and Trigg doing their thing. Freshman front court player Terra Brooks is leading the team in rebounds and 6-1 sophomore center Nandi Jordan is third in that category.
Jordan had 10 points and Brooks hauled down 12 rebounds in an impressive win over Jefferson last week.
"Our post players are more involved, our defense is stepping up a notch. That's what we know we have to do, pressure 'D', attack and rebound," she said. "We'll see. It's do or die."
While the Strawberry Crest-Armwood district semifinal winner will have made the playoffs, there's the whole matter of trying to knock off tourney host Sickles for the district crown. Only once has either team played the Gryphons close this season, and that was Amwood.
"Sickles is just a solid team, everyone knows their roles and they play well together," Lewis said.