Tuesday, December 04, 2007

O'Connell/Woodson Basketball

O'Connell Finds Much to Cheer About After Win
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 5, 2007; E08

After last night's 71-52 boys' basketball victory over visiting W.T. Woodson, Bishop O'Connell Coach Joe Wootten stood at the front of a classroom and read from the stat sheet.

Huddled near Wootten, sitting in a cluster of desks, the third-ranked Knights clapped in unison each time they heard a statistical category that they'd won.

After dominating nearly every facet of the game, including a 36-17 rebounding advantage, the clapping soon turned to a constant applause as Wootten continued.

"It's going to be a special year," said sophomore guard Kendall Marshall, who scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half and added seven assists.

Marshall, who has orally committed to North Carolina, is one of perhaps three Division I-bound players for O'Connell -- a program that has won three regular season Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles, one tournament title and four state titles in Wootten's nine seasons.

Georgetown-bound guard Jason Clark scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half to help the Knights to a 36-15 halftime lead, and 6-foot-11 senior center Frank Ben-Eze (Harvard) scored all nine of his points in the second half.

O'Connell built a 19-9 first-quarter lead and pushed its lead as high as 27 in the third.

"If I give it to Kendall, I know he can do something," said Clark, who had three assists. "Giving it to Frank, I know he can do something with it, and they know if they give it to me, I can do it, too."

Clark, Kendall and Ben-Eze each carried the Knights at different times, and 10 Knights scored as O'Connell shot 26 of 50.

"That's what's so good about Jason, a four-year varsity player," Wootten said. "He's really committed to making this about the team."

Ben-Eze, who played limited minutes because of a stress fracture in his right shin, is in his second season with the Knights after moving from Nigeria, and Marshall is one of five sophomores.

Woodson junior guard Stephen Stepka led all scorers with 23 points and hit all five of his three-point attempts in the second half.

No. 3 Bishop O'Connell 71 No. 19 W.T. Woodson 52 Craig's List: With one available date on his schedule last March, Woodson Coach Doug Craig asked his rising seniors to create a list of schools they wanted to play. "I told them, 'Anyone you want to play.' . . . They asked for O'Connell. These guys believe they can play with anyone" Craig said. Boardroom: O'Connell's coaches stressed offensive rebounding in practice heading into this game, and the Knights did not allow Woodson one offensive rebound in the first half.

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