The Woodrow Wilson gym was packed, and the Tigers' drum line was banging away in the stands.
The Washington Township girls' basketball players didn't seem to notice.
For the group that has won three sectional titles in a row, pregame was business as usual - until the players walked to midcourt, huddled, and looked at each other just before tipoff.
"At that moment, it did feel a little bit sad," Kelly Giedemann said. "You realize that this is our last first game, that before long our last high school game ever is going to be here. We just told each other we wanted to make the most of it."
Giedemann and the rest of the Washington Township team did just that Friday night in a contest that could have been mistaken for a playoff game.
Washington Township, ranked No. 3 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, topped No. 5 Woodrow Wilson, 82-69, in a back-and-forth, emotionally charged season opener.
"It was awesome. I don't think we've ever scored 82 points," Washington Township coach Jenn Natale said. "I'm really proud of my team. This is not an easy gym to play in, but we handled the pressure very well."
Giedemann, a senior shooting guard, and twin sister Kylie, as they've been throughout their careers, were the Minutemaids' tenacious, tireless leaders.
With Kelly Giedemann (13 points) saddled with foul trouble in the first half, Kylie carried the team's scoring, netting 20 of her team-high 28 points before halftime.
"Everybody stepped it up with Kelly out," Kylie Giedemann said. "We just got the job done."
Washington Township was particularly effective on the boards, an effort led by senior Jess Monte's 12 rebounds.
Senior guard Chanelle Perry, a Clemson recruit, scored 20 points for the Tigers. Junior guard Lyayshia Stevens led all players with 31.
The teams traded leads during a scrappy first three quarters. Township pulled away in the final minutes largely because of its trademark free-throw shooting.
Kelly Giedemann was 10 for 10 from the line in the game, and Kylie Giedemann was 11 of 12. Overall, the team was 30 for 32.
"By the end of the year, we'll be a lot better than we were tonight," Wilson coach Bernie Hinson said.
Washington Twp. 16 21 19 26 – 82
Woodrow Wilson 15 22 14 18 – 69
WT: Paige White 2, Torie Eggers 2, Brianna Capacchione 10, Kylie Giedemann 28, Cierra Keitt 2, Kelly Giedemann 13, Megan Finucane 4, Jess Monte 9, Erin Rafter 12.
WW: Chanelle Perry 24, Lyayshia Stevens 31, Shanayah Allen 5, Tamara Sellers 5, Cierre Bennett 3, Iris Sanjurjo 1.