Thursday, January 31, 2008

Boys' Hoops Notebook

Titans Travel South
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, January 31, 2008; VA14

T.C. Williams will continue to play through its stacked out-of-conference schedule when it travels to Richmond tomorrow to face private school power Benedictine.

The No. 10 Titans entered the week 13-2, with a loss this month to No. 2 Montrose Christian. The Titans also have a 45-44 victory over Norfolk Collegiate on their resume.

Coach Ivan Thomas has set up the gantlet-style schedule to help the Titans "get over the hump," he said.

"There hasn't been a winner from around here in a while," said Thomas, referencing the Northern Region's 27-year Virginia AAA state title drought since Lee in 1981.

Seven Northern Region teams since then have made it to the state final. None has come home with a winner's trophy.

"You have to familiarize yourself with the kind of competition that is going to win the state title," said Thomas, whose team is 62-11 and undefeated 42-0 in the Patriot District in three seasons. "Not that the competition isn't here [in the Northern Region], but it's a different style of play."

Benedictine, ranked No. 1 by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, is led by 6-foot-9, 215-pound North Carolina-bound forward Ed Davis, a player whom Thomas has coached the past two seasons on his Boo Williams 17-under AAU team.

Benedictine, which is ranked third in the Virginia Independent School League Division I poll, entered the week with a 19-4 record after its eight-game win streak was snapped in a 70-55 loss to Blue Ridge (St. George, Va.) on Saturday.

The Cadets' schedule has splits with reigning Virginia AAA state champion Highland Springs and wins over 2006 state champion Booker T. Washington and national power Oak Hill Academy.

Three Titans entered the week scoring in double figures: senior Travis Berry (15 points per game), junior Edward Jenkins (14.5) and 6-7 senior guard-forward Anthony Winbush (12.6).

"I'm hoping that it will have made us battle-tested for a postseason run," Thomas said. "I'm hoping that it will give us a point of reference whenever we play the tough games."

Thomas said Benedictine will travel to Alexandria to play next season.Oakton Senior Gives Team Second District Win

Oakton senior Bart Reese, a 6-foot guard, leads the area in three-pointers made (62) and three-pointers per game (3.9).

Reese, who headed into Tuesday's game against No. 17 Westfield (13-2, 5-1) averaging a Virginia AAA Concorde District best 18.6 points per game, connected five times from behind the arc to lift Oakton to a 49-48 win Friday over Robinson.

That performance capped a three-game stretch during which Reese hit 10 three-pointers to help Oakton (4-12, 2-5) earn its first two district wins this season over Fairfax and Robinson.

Reese hit seven three-pointers en route to a career-high 38 points in a 76-60 loss to Herndon on Jan. 10.

It is believed to be the school's single-game scoring record.

Reese has hit seven three-pointers in four games this season.

"At any time, he can heat up," Oakton Coach Chuck McDaniel said. "He makes most of his threes look easy, but it comes from hours and hours of working on shooting correctly, which, in turn, just becomes muscle memory when he goes up for a shot."

After dropping three of its first four, W.T. Woodson has since won 10 of 12 and entered the week riding a four-game win streak to the top of the Liberty District standings.

In four of its five losses, Woodson had double-digit leads in the second half.

"We had chances to win a lot of those games, but we have a young group," Cavaliers coach Doug Craig said. "We set up a very heavy front-loaded schedule, and I think we are seeing the
dividends of that now."

Three Cavaliers are ranked among the Liberty District's top 10 scorers: sophomore guard Max Lenox (12.8 points per game), senior forward Greg Whitaker (14.1) and Stephen Stepka (15.9), a 6-6 junior guard-forward who took an official visit to American University last weekend.

"If those three guys play well together, we are pretty tough to guard," Craig said. . . .

No. 14 Chantilly's John Manning broke a 21-year-old school record for blocks in a single game with 13 in a 65-54 win at Centreville on Friday. Manning -- a 6-foot-10, 200-pound freshman -- broke the record set by 1987 graduate David Herbster, who had nine.

"His interior defense is critical for us," said Chantilly Coach Jim Smith. "He's discouraging teams from coming inside."

Manning also had one deflection and five points to help Chantilly improve to 14-1. He has 57 blocks this season for an average of 3.8 per game.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mount Vernon Basketball

Supporting Cast Gives Majors Lift in Shootout
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, January 30, 2008; E09

Mount Vernon's Marquel De Lancey and Edison's Kendall Wallace each scored 30 points in the Majors' 71-69 boys' basketball victory at Edison last night.

De Lancey, an Old Dominion-bound senior guard, and the 6-foot-2 Wallace entered the game ranked first and second in the National District in scoring, respectively, but contributions from the Majors' supporting cast helped decide the game.

In addition to De Lancey's scoring, Mount Vernon's Skylar Jones scored 10 points and hauled in 11 rebounds to help the Majors (11-6, 7-1) win their third straight.

Mount Vernon took over sole possession of first place as Yorktown (9-8, 6-2) lost, 47-44, to Washington-Lee (1-16, 1-7) last night.

Edison (8-9, 4-3) had its winning streak stopped at three.

"We are getting a lot of contributions from different guys in different ways," Mount Vernon Coach Alfonso Smith said. "We have a lot of guys that can score. The thing we've been trying to emphasize is defense."

Mount Vernon is scoring 70.7 points per game, second in the Virginia AAA Northern Region behind Annandale (74.8) and 11th in the area.

It was the Majors' second victory over the Eagles this season, a rare sweep in a National District race that has traditionally been a top-heavy battle between Mount Vernon, Edison, Wakefield and Yorktown.

De Lancey scored 19 points in a 78-54 victory over the Eagles on Jan. 4, and Mount Vernon has since won six of eight games to take control of the National District.

De Lancey was 11 of 20 from the free throw line last night.

"He shot the ball very confidently," Smith said. "I know everyone knows him as someone who attacks the basket, but he was making a few jumpers tonight. When he's shooting with confidence, it's hard to stop him."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Washington-Lee Forfeits

Washington-Lee Forfeits Three Wins
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, January 29, 2008; E07

Washington-Lee has forfeited all three of its victories after it was discovered the Generals used an ineligible player, Coach Bobby Dobson confirmed yesterday.

The Generals' wins over Jefferson, H.D. Woodson and Falls Church will be forfeited because it was found that a senior transfer was in violation of a Virginia High School League rule that requires a player to have guardianship at his or her residence, Dobson explained.

According to the VHSL Handbook, the "Transfer Rule" states that a "student shall not have enrolled in one high school and subsequently transferred to and enrolled in another high school without a corresponding change in the residence of his/her parents, parent, or guardian."

According to Dobson, the player in question began the school year at Falls Church High School. When that player turned 18, he moved into his aunt's house in the Washington-Lee school district because of a "hardship with his family," Dobson said.

"As far as I knew, he was able to play. We found out later that he couldn't.
"It's under appeal with the VHSL and, hopefully, this week it will be resolved," Dobson said.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Langley vs. McLean Hoops

Davenport, Langley Prevail
Senior Guard Scores 24, Wins Duel Against McLean's Ammoury
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, January 26, 2008; E09

Langley senior Ryan Davenport had won several matchups against McLean senior Tarek Ammoury before last night's 60-49 triumph.

A four-year varsity player, Davenport entered last night's game with a 5-2 record against Ammoury's Highlanders.

Davenport, a 6-foot-3 guard, had also taken a few more personal victories in one-on-one pickup games the two have shared in practices with the Nova United, the AAU team they've played for the last three offseasons.

But for Davenport, last night was a "dream matchup." He scored 24 points, besting Ammoury's 22 in front of a capacity crowd at McLean.

"This was a must-win game," Langley Coach Travis Hess said. "Not because it was Langley-Mclean. That was only part of it."

The victory pushed Langley (14-2, 6-2 Virginia AAA Liberty District) into a three-way tie with Madison (13-3, 6-2) and South Lakes (13-3, 6-2) in a hotly contested race for seeding before the start of the district tournament. Langley owns the tiebreakers over both teams.

McLean dropped to 9-7, 4-4 and lost its second straight district game.

Ammoury and Davenport entered last night's game ranked first and second in scoring in the Liberty District, respectively.

"We've dreamed of matchups like this," said Davenport, who is now 62 points shy of breaking Langley's all-time scoring record (1,204 points).

Ammoury became McLean's all-time scoring leader earlier this season.

"In the third [quarter], he carried his team and I tried to carry my team," Ammoury said. "But he did more to help them win."

The two stars traded blows in the third quarter, during which Ammoury scored nine points on a host of spin moves while Davenport poured in 12 to help the Saxons take a 48-40 lead into the fourth quarter.

"Ryan is our go-to guy," said Derek Baker, a junior transfer from O'Connell who scored 10 points and hauled in nine rebounds. "Tonight he really showed that he is the best player in the district."
Langley outscored McLean 12-9 in the fourth quarter and held Ammoury scoreless with a junk defense it hasn't used since last season.

"It's called triangle," Hess said of the defensive scheme.

Langley 60, McLean 49

Hunter and Gatherer: Langley junior guard Barrett Hunter had six points, four rebounds and three assists. He was 4 of 4 from the free throw line, including two free throws that closed out the game at 60-49 with 19 seconds left.

Clean Sweep: Langley senior point guard Katie Hansan scored 13 points to lift the Langley girls to a 43-37 win in the first game of last night's doubleheader.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Basketball Notebook

Northern Region Court Report
A Lot on the Line
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post

When the Langley boys' team travels to McLean tomorrow, the game will match two of the top scoring threats in the Virginia AAA Liberty District, and it might decide more than neighborhood bragging rights.

Langley and McLean also are in the hunt to host a district tournament playoff game. Each entered the week tied for third place in the district.

The scoring threats will play a primary role: McLean senior Tarek Ammoury averages 22.3 points; Langley senior Ryan Davenport averages 18.3 points.

"Our goal is to host a playoff game at McLean," Ammoury said. "That spices it up a little bit."
"A lot of times, the game is just a rivalry game, and neither of us have had a great record going [in]," Davenport said. "It used to be a game between neighborhood rivals. Now it's a game that both teams have to win."

Since 2000, Langley has posted a 13-2 record in the rivalry; however, McLean beat Langley, 50-48, Dec. 21 on a last-second three-pointer.

"These games are always tight," said Davenport, who is Ammoury's AAU teammate with Nova United. "It's a really big game for both teams."

Free Throws

Entering Tuesday's matchup with West Potomac, Annandale had posted a 3-3 record in games in which 6-foot-5 guard-forward Erik Etherly (17.6 points per game) led the team in scoring.
The Northeastern-bound senior scored 26 points and hauled in 20 rebounds in a 91-76 loss to T.C. Williams on Jan. 4.

After that loss, Annandale went on a four-game winning streak and moved into second place in the Patriot District by getting more production from its supporting cast.

In Friday's 80-64 win over Lee, five players scored in double figures, including senior Jay Washington (13.1 points per game) and junior Alan Stalp (12 points per game).

Washington and Stalp have led the Atoms in scoring in each of the past two games, making Annandale 4-3 when someone other than Etherly leads the team in scoring.

Heading into Tuesday's game, six players were scoring at least six points per game.

"Last year we didn't have that balance," Atoms Coach Anthony Harper said. "It's all about making that extra pass and getting those kids that aren't our top three scorers involved." . . .

Longtime Washington-Lee assistant basketball coach Jim Hatch died Jan. 15 from pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease.

Hatch, 75, spent 52 years in coaching, including most of the past 25 years as an assistant basketball coach at the Arlington County high school. Hatch also spent time as an assistant at Bishop Ireton.

"It's very important not to forget what he stood for and what he expected of you as a player and you as a person," said Washington-Lee Coach Bobby Dobson, who had been assisted by Hatch for the past 10 years.

Washington-Lee held a ceremony in Hatch's honor before Friday's 58-52 loss to Wakefield.
"Each player came up and hugged me and told me not to give up," said Hatch's wife, Patricia.

A funeral will be today at 9:30 a.m. at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mount Vernon Basketball

De Lancey Likes a Challenge
--By B.J. Koubaroulis, Special to The Washington Post

If Mount Vernon can snap visiting Yorktown's five-game winning streak in tonight's battle for first place in the Virginia AAA National District, the Majors will likely need a big effort from guard Marquel De Lancey.

"Just knowing that there is a team out there with a better record than us, he's going to be motivated to play," Majors Coach Alfonso Smith said of De Lancey, a 6-foot Old Dominion-bound senior who leads the National District in scoring with 20 points per game. "Yorktown is in the position we want to be in (first place). . . . He sees it as a challenge."

Led by Simon Kilday's 14.9 points per game, Yorktown (8-6, 5-0) has won seven of its past eight, including four straight against district competition.

The Patriots have the Northern Region's fifth-best defense, holding opponents to an average of 54.2 points per game, but they have yet to face a high-octane offense like Mount Vernon's.

The Majors (8-6, 4-1) are fourth in scoring among Washington area teams, recording a Northern Region-best 72.5 points per game behind De Lancey, junior forward Robert Coleman (14.6) and sophomore forward Skylar Jones (10.7).

Langley Girls' Soccer

Langley Hires New Coach
Tuesday, January 22, 2008; E05

Gretchen Hamm has been hired as the girls' soccer coach at Langley High School.

Hamm, 32, led Annandale's junior varsity girls' soccer team to a 2-10-2 record last season.

She was a standout at Washburn High School in Minneapolis, where Hamm said she set the state's public school career scoring record with 111 goals before playing at Providence College in Rhode Island.

Hamm, who replaced Melissa Bibbee, takes over one of the Liberty District's premier programs.

Bibbee's record at Langley was 115-38-13 and she led the Saxons to four district titles, one region title and a state runner-up finish (2001) in 10 seasons before taking the same position at Chantilly in August.

"I think there is a real opportunity in Northern Virginia," said Hamm, a director of marketing for a nonprofit organization in the District. "With lots of programs losing lots of seniors and several coaching changes, there is a real opportunity to go deep into the playoffs."

-- B.J. Koubaroulis

A.J. Price

From Washington Post Staff Writer Josh Barr's Blog...
Local Receiver Picks Penn State
Colleague B.J. Koubaroulis passes along this report:

South Lakes senior wide receiver A.J. Price accepted a full scholarship to play football at Penn State on Sunday.

During an official visit this weekend, the 6-foot-4, 175-pound second team All-Met chose the Nittany Lions over offers from Virginia and Michigan.

The decision ended a late recruiting battle that began after Price reeled in 32 catches for 816 yards and 11 touchdowns this fall, most of which surfaced on a highlight reel that drew recruiting interest from several major programs.

“We didn’t have any film on him from last year,” South Lakes Coach John Ellenberger said. “All of the sudden we are into the third or fourth game [this season] and I put together a highlight reel and then [the recruiting interest is] ridiculous.”

Friday, January 18, 2008

Chantilly vs. Westfield

Athearn Is Making the Cut for Chantilly
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, January 19, 2008; E07

Austin Decker, Justin May and Robbie Athearn all took different paths in becoming starters for Chantilly's basketball team.

May was a highly regarded star and Decker -- the football team's star quarterback -- always has played basketball in order to stay in shape in the offseason.

Last night, as Chantilly rolled over visiting rival Westfield, 65-52, it was Athearn who got his chance to be a star.

"Robbie was cut as a freshman. He wears that every time he goes out on the floor," Coach Jim Smith said of Athearn, a 6-foot-2 senior who scored a game-high 22 points.

Athearn scored six points in the fourth quarter of a physical contest that featured five technicals and 45 fouls.

Chantilly (13-1, 5-1) took over first place in the Virginia AAA Concorde District, and No. 12 Westfield (12-2, 4-1) had its winning streak halted at eight.

"Not making the team my freshman year was hard at first," said Athearn, who is second on the team in scoring at 13.9 points per game. "But right after that, I got right back to work."

Because of Athearn's development, the Chargers have a competitive mix of stars and several who Smith called "hungry players" who could contend in a wide-open Northern Region race.

"He's the most improved player I've ever played with," said May, who scored 10 of his 20 points in the first half to help the Chargers take a 30-27 halftime lead.

Decker scored seven of his 10 points in the third quarter to spark a 17-10 run that put Chantilly up 47-37 entering the fourth quarter. Decker added six assists and 11 rebounds.

"He was really persistent and kept at it," Decker said of Athearn. "Now he's playing big for us, making shots in the post and going out on the perimeter to shoot."

Westfield's Jamie Richardson scored 18 points, but Decker held Ball State-bound senior Maurice Hubbard (11.9 points per game) scoreless in the first half and to eight points overall.

"I know that with Austin, he's going to compete on every play," Smith said. "You love to coach a kid like that."

Chantilly 65 No. 12 Westfield 52

Rivalry Intact: Last night's victory gave Chantilly a 9-8 lead in the rivalry that started when Westfield opened in 2000. However, Westfield Coach Doug Ewell, in his fourth season, has posted a 5-3 record in the series.

Unselfish Group: Chantilly recorded 16 assists last night.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Manning Feature

In Choosing Chantilly, Manning Goes Public
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, January 18, 2008; E07

Chantilly High School freshman John Manning says he is 6 feet 10 "barefoot." "I get another inch with my shoes on," Manning adds.

He's 200 pounds with a
wingspan of 7 feet. And he's just 15.

"It's not out of the question to think he is going to finish up at 7-foot or taller," said Alex Harris, Manning's trainer since the fifth grade. "I'd be shocked if he was done growing."

On a basketball landscape where a 6-10 freshman could play at just about any private program of his choosing, for coaches who specialize in turning promising athletes into college prospects, perhaps the most surprising thing about Manning is that he has landed at Chantilly -- and seems to have no intention of leaving the Northern Virginia public school.

"All my friends go here," said Manning, who has been playing spring and fall league basketball with Chantilly's junior varsity team since he was a seventh grader. He also grew up playing basketball with the Chantilly Youth Association.

"He's well-connected in the local community," said Harris, a former American University player who stands 6-9 and works as a trainer with Lessons Learned, a youth basketball instruction program in Northern Virginia. "When you are a 6-10 freshman, you don't have trouble getting known, no matter where you are."

Manning, who leads Chantilly (12-1, 4-1) into tonight's key Concorde District matchup with No. 12 Westfield (12-1, 4-0) averaging 11 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, has been fielding offers from private school powers since he was a 6-6 sixth grader.

"Somebody called my dad from Massachusetts and said, 'Why don't you come to this boarding school? '" said Manning, who has already taken unofficial college visits to Georgetown and Virginia.

Manning considered top-ranked Washington Catholic Athletic Conference power Gonzaga just before the start of the school year, but decided the commute to Northwest Washington each day was too much.

"We looked at most of the WCAC schools," said Manning's father, Doug. "We really felt that he could get everything at Chantilly that he could get there and it could save him three hours a day [commuting] to be a kid. We hope that he can grow up as part of the community."

The decision to stay at Chantilly with a core of neighborhood friends and with Coach Jim Smith, who has been tutoring the young giant at offseason camps since he was an awkward 5-8 9-year-old is "pretty much done," Manning said.

"He thought this was the best place to come even in sixth grade because he knew people were trying to get me," Manning said of Smith, who has posted a 322-169 record and won four district titles in 17 seasons at Chantilly. "Even when I wasn't too good, when I was little, he was still nice."

Described by his teammates as quiet, Manning also prefers the low-pressure atmosphere at Chantilly.

"Those players that are there, like at Gonzaga or at O'Connell, half their team is going somewhere. There's pressure with that," Manning said. "[At Chantilly] it's still hard, but it just feels more comfortable. It's a little more relaxed."

The low-pressure environment is intentional.

"I don't want to add too much pressure to him right now," Smith said. "I just want him to play and learn and give him opportunities to grow without throwing too much at him too fast."

So far Manning has managed the learning curve. He has shown he can handle himself around the basket and has already begun developing a medium-range jump shot. Few of his skills have escaped the notice of college recruiters.

"I've got just about every ACC school calling me before he's even played a minute of high school basketball," Smith said. "Over the years, you get a lot of guys that come into high school with a lot of hype. . . . I've never had a player as good as John, and as humble as John be as receptive to coaching. I think right there that gives him a chance to be special."

Boys' Basketball Notebook

Northern Region Court Report
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, January 17, 2008; VA16

Yorktown's 61-55 victory over Edison on Friday ended one streak and continued another.

The Patriots had won the previous game in the series, a 57-52 victory in the Virginia AAA National District championship last season.

But the victory was the first for the Patriots (7-6, 4-0) over the Eagles in the regular season since 2002. Edison had won 10 consecutive regular-season games dating from a 55-44 loss on Jan. 18, 2002.

Yorktown Coach Rich Avila knows that another postseason meeting with the Eagles is possible this season.

"From what I've seen so far this year, there are six teams that can win the district this season," Avila said. "The district is wide open. [Friday's win] gives our guys a confidence that we can beat those guys."

Junior forward Simon Kilday scored 20 points to help the Patriots down their third consecutive National District opponent. Kilday, a 6-foot-3 forward, is averaging 14.5 points.

"The kid has a good IQ for the game," Avila said. "He understands the game and tries to play to his strengths."

Going into tomorrow's game against Stuart, Yorktown has won six of its past seven and four in a row.

"We are just hoping we can keep this thing going," Avila said.

Quite a Tandem

Robinson junior Brandon Kuter went from being a backup last season to standout this season, even though the player he played behind is still on the team.

Kuter was a reserve for Drew Aunon last season. Kuter, who is 6-feet-6, 205 pounds, and Aunon, who is 6-7, 210, have become more of a tandem this season. Kuter leads the Rams in scoring; he averages 11.7 points.

Kuter scored 11 points in Robinson's 52-41 victory over previously undefeated Chantilly last week.

"He's become more of a threat for us," Robinson Coach Matt McKeag said of Kuter. "He's getting the confidence now that he can really do some good things. Our focus is to get the ball inside early."

Jefferson's Special One

There is no official statistic for the biggest contribution senior center Spencer de Mars has made to Jefferson's turnaround this season.

The Colonials (6-6, 2-3 Liberty District) have rebounded after their 1-20 finish last season largely because de Mars, who is 6-feet-9, is averaging 12.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.

He also alters between six and seven shots per game, according to Coach Ed Grimm, entering a contest against W.T. Woodson on Tuesday.

"People look at blocks, but they don't realize how important it is to have someone who will alter shots," Grimm said of de Mars, a first-year varsity starter who is drawing recruiting interest from several Ivy League schools. "Over the years, we've ended up losing a number of games by five or six points and when you have a kid that can alter shots, all of a sudden you've got a presence inside that is allowing you to win games by six points instead of lose games by six points."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Langley Hoops

Davenport Helps Langley Respond Under OT Pressure
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, January 16, 2008; E07

Through the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and for most of the overtime period in Langley's 48-46 victory over visiting No. 20 Madison last night, the crowd was chanting "Pressure . . . Pressure."

And in the high-pressure situation -- which featured two 11-1 boys' basketball teams battling for first place in the Liberty District -- Langley turned to a familiar source of calm: senior guard Ryan Davenport.

"We are either going to win with him or lose with him," said Langley Coach Travis Hess of Davenport, who finished with 23 points. "But [in these situations] we're going to ride him."

Langley rode Davenport last season as the 6-foot-3 guard scored 584 of the team's 1,494 points (39 percent) and led the Northern Region in scoring with 23 points per game. But his team struggled to a 13-12 finish.

This season, with a revived supporting cast that includes transfer Derek Baker (O'Connell), Davenport has taken a backseat in scoring.

The more balanced attack has helped Langley (12-1, 4-1 Liberty District) to its best start "possibly in the program's history," Hess said.

But last night, trailing 32-26 with 5 minutes and 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Langley again turned to the Davenport, who scored 14 of the Saxons' final 22 points, matching Madison's 14-point output in the game's final two periods.

"Knowing that your coach has confidence in you and wants you to take the shot helps a lot," Davenport said. "Even if it's not the best shot at times, he's still going to give it to you the next time, and to have that makes you feel relaxed."

Madison dropped to 11-2, 4-1 and had its win streak halted at six.

Langley won its eighth straight and forced a three-way tie for first place in the Virginia AAA Liberty District with W.T. Woodson and Madison.

Langley travels to Woodson (8-5, 4-1) on Friday.

"I don't remember the last time we were the team to beat, and I like the sound of that," said Davenport, who is 111 points shy of breaking the school's career scoring mark (1,204 points). "But it comes with a lot of responsibility. Our goal is to forget about the fact that we are 12-1, but it's kind of hard to do that."

Langley 48 No. 20 Madison 46

Hahn's Solo Performance: Madison's Lucas Hahn was 3 for 3 from beyond the arc, including a three-point basket that put Madison up 37-35 with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter.

Low-Scoring Affair: Both teams entered the game averaging more than 60 points per game. "In these tough district games, you are going to see a lot of tougher defenses," Davenport said.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bryn Renner

Spartans' Renner Keeping Options Open
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, January 15, 2008; E07

Even though he is leading the Washington area in scoring with 28.3 points per game, West Springfield junior Bryn Renner can't see a future in basketball.

But he hasn't ruled it out, either.

"It would be better for baseball and football to work out, but maybe basketball, too," said Renner, who ranked fifth among Washington area quarterbacks this fall with 2,749 yards passing and second in touchdown passes with 32.

Renner, an honorable mention All-Met at quarterback, said he is being recruited by Notre Dame, Penn State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Maryland.

Also a shortstop for the Spartans' baseball team, Renner hit .333 with three home runs, 23 RBI and 13 stolen bases last spring, drawing interest from North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Maryland.

"I'm just trying to keep my options open," said Renner, whose father Bill -- West Springfield's football coach -- was a punter with the Green Bay Packers.

The 6-foot-4 junior guard heads into tonight's game against Lake Braddock second in both three-pointers made (39) and three-pointers per game (3.5).

A first-year starter, he also scored a Northern Region-high 43 points -- including five three-pointers -- in West Springfield's 82-69 loss to Riverbend on Dec. 29.

Renner said he expects that his recent success on the basketball court will "help in recruiting,
because in basketball you have to have a lot of athletic skills and in football you have to have the same."

A.J. Price

What it Feels Like...
To play high school basketball while being recruited by top Division I college football programs
Monday, January 14, 2008; E02

After his mother convinced the basketball-crazed senior to play football this fall, South Lakes' A.J. Price hauled in 32 catches for 816 yards and 11 TDs, most of which have surfaced on a highlight reel on YouTube and helped the previously unknown 6-foot-4 second team All-Met wide receiver draw late offers from U-Va., Penn State and Michigan. That however, did not stop him from playing basketball this winter. link

I just go out and play and I don't really worry about getting hurt. If I get hurt, I was meant to get hurt, that's just what God had planned. I play for my teammates. They are my friends. I'm not going to sit out just because I have football scholarships on the line.

I talk to [teammate Thomas Mayo] about this all the time because he's got some Division I-AA recruiting going on. We talk all the time and if we go out there thinking that we are going to get hurt, then we are going to get hurt.

I sprained my ankle in a game three weeks ago, but the football aspect didn't cross my mind until after the game. I just try to keep football off the basketball court. It just happens. I just don't think about it at all ...

It was the day before football practice started, my mom and [South Lakes Coach John Ellenberger] talked me into [playing football], so I went out and played. I wasn't expecting football to happen.

Now, Michigan, Penn State and U-Va. are my top choices. Florida didn't go how I wanted it to go, but it was still nice enough to know that I was considered good enough to play on that stage. It's a confidence-booster, football-wise...

Our offensive coach put the [highlight reel on YouTube], but didn't tell me until two days after that he put it on. That's where [Florida] saw me. It's helped a lot. A lot of people have left comments. I think it's funny. In one of my classes, one of my teachers put it up and we had to do a worksheet on it. I get a lot of jokes about it from my friends.

-- Interview by B.J. Koubaroulis

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Montrose Christian Basketball

Mustangs Win Clash With Titans in 2 OT
Game Features Eight Ties, Seven Lead Changes
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, January 13, 2008; D12

T.C. Williams Coach Ivan Thomas calls himself a "high school basketball junkie."

Thomas often makes the drive to Rockville to watch Washington area power Montrose Christian's games.

Last night, Thomas welcomed the Mustangs to Alexandria for the first meeting between the programs, which was dubbed "The Battle at the Garden."

Third-ranked Montrose rode 6-foot-8 junior forward Isaiah Armwood's 19 points for a 64-58 double-overtime victory over No. 14 T.C. Williams.

The game featured eight ties and seven lead changes and included a half-court heave from T.C. Williams junior guard Edward Jenkins (17 points) to send the game into the first overtime.

Neither team led by more than five points, and the score was tied at 21 at the half.

Jenkins's buzzer-beater from half court tied the score at 50 and sent many of the 2,500 in attendance rushing onto the court.

"I think it's important that area schools that have traditionally strong basketball programs play each other," Montrose Christian Coach Stu Vetter said. "I think this was a good opportunity for both of us. They have a good team with a strong reputation, and we're proud of our program, so playing each other is just a natural."

The Titans, the reigning Virginia AAA Northern Region champion, are 4-0 in the Patriot District and posted a 58-10 record over the last three seasons.

Montrose Christian has been nationally ranked each of the last nine years, and both programs have produced a wealth of Division I college players.

The two coaches have made an agreement to play annually in an effort to encourage area coaches to bridge the gap between public and private school programs.

Last year's meeting between the programs, when Montrose was ranked No. 1 and T.C. Williams was ranked No. 3, was canceled because of the death of Carson Wise, a 13-year-old on the Mustangs' eighth grade team who collapsed during basketball practice and died from an undiagnosed heart condition the day before the scheduled Jan. 27 meeting.

"I was real impressed with how T.C. Williams handled it," Vetter said. "It was a real big game for them. They were not only understanding, they sent their condolences."

Montrose (9-2) won its third straight, and T.C. Williams (9-2) had its winning streak end at seven.

No. 3 Montrose Christian 64, No. 14 T.C. Williams 58

Winbush Fuels Titans: T.C. Williams's Anthony Winbush scored eight of his 13 points to spark a 12-1 Titans run to start the second quarter.

Vinsanity: Montrose's Terrell Vinson -- one of three 6-foot-7 juniors -- scored 16 points.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hayfield Hoops

Atkins Leads The Way as Hawks Feast
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, January 12, 2008; E05

Hayfield Coach Ron Palmer has spent much of the early part of this season working with Aaquil Atkins to get the senior guard to change his style from 'shoot first' to 'protect the ball and lead.'

Palmer, 69, in his first year at the Alexandria school after winning 609 games and a California state title at Long Beach Poly, knew Atkins needed to change his game for the Hawks to win.

Atkins has been paying attention, the latest evidence coming last night in a 67-63 win over visiting Lee.

Atkins scored 12 points to go with six rebounds and three assists to help Hayfield rally from an 11-point deficit and improve to 7-3, 3-1 in the AAA Patriot District.

"It started off a little bit difficult in the beginning," said Atkins, who led Hayfield in scoring during its 6-16 finish last season. "I had to get used to [Palmer's] style of play because it was a lot different than last year."

Palmer was so pleased by Atkins's selfless display -- he also took three charges -- that, in the game's most pivotal moment, he asked the 6-foot guard to take two crucial free throws.

Trailing 62-61 with 1 minute and 47 seconds remaining, Palmer tapped Atkins to take a pair of free throws awarded to the Hawks on a technical foul.

"It's not, 'Can he [hit those shots]?' " Palmer said of Atkins. "I expect him to be able to hit those shots."

Atkins made both free throws to put Hayfield up for good in a game that featured five ties and six lead changes.

Hayfield outscored Lee 24-12 in the fourth quarter and relied on two big three-pointers from sophomore guard Brandon Winbush (13 points) to fuel the rally.

Atkins, however, acknowledged the game was part of the learning process.

"Now, I've really started to come around and I'm really used to it. In college, I'm going to have to play [point guard] anyway, so he's really just trying to get me ready for that role at the college level. I really appreciate everything he's doing for me."

The Hawks' win forced a tie with Annandale (5-6, 3-1) for second place in the Patriot District behind No. 14 T.C. Williams (9-1, 4-0).

Lee (8-4, 2-2 Patriot District), which started the season 7-1, has lost three of its last four.
Four Hawks scored in double figures.

Hayfield 67, Lee 63

Missing Stars: Lee's Tad Dickman (14 points) and Walter Griffin (20) combined for 34 of the Lancers' 51 points before both went to the bench with four fouls late in the third quarter. Lee scored nine points before the two returned with 4:58 left in the fourth quarter and they did not score for the remainder of the game.

Laryea Back: Hayfield's Manny Laryea, a 6-6, 225-pound forward who injured a ligament in his right knee in the fall, scored five points and picked up a technical foul in his first game since the injury.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Soos to Lake Braddock

Lake Braddock Calls On A. Soos
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, January 11, 2008; E08

Adam Soos has been hired as the girls' soccer coach at Lake Braddock.

Soos, 29, led the Freedom-Woodbridge boys' soccer program to a 5-25-4 record during its first three seasons in existence.

In replacing Liz Pike, he takes over the two-time defending Virginia AAA state champions.

Pike led the Bruins to a 17-3-2 mark last season before leaving to take over the women's soccer program at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.

In eight seasons, Pike -- the 2001 All-Met Coach of the Year -- led Lake Braddock to four district, two region and three state titles, earned five berths in the state tournament, sent 32 players to Division I programs and coached nine All-Mets.

"Certainly the challenge is there," said Soos, a high school government teacher in Prince William County. "It's not a secret around Northern Virginia that Lake Braddock graduated a great group of players that enjoyed a great deal of success, but, while there are certainly going to be some growing pains, we want to be as competitive as we can possibly be right away."

Soos, whose brother Joe coaches the Bruins' boys' team, was the co-head coach for the Woodbridge girls' soccer team in 2003.

He played soccer at Lafayette College and played on Woodbridge's state championship soccer team in 1996.

Soos was one of 10 applicants in a hiring process that took nearly three months, according to Lake Braddock Director of Student Activities Mark Martino.

"It seemed like such a perfect fit," Martino said, "because of his demeanor and the way he treats kids."

West Potomac Hoops

Footballers Lift W. Potomac Hoops Squad
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, January 10, 2008; VA14

Jimmy Bennett, a 6-foot-9, 285-pound All-Met offensive lineman on West Potomac's football team, was one of six football players who missed "the most important week of
basketball practice," Bennett said.

The Connecticut-bound lineman helped the Wolverines football team to its first postseason since 2000 and subsequently missed the first week of basketball tryouts.

"That first week gets you in shape, and the football players missed that, and it took us until the Christmas break to get back in [basketball] shape," said Bennett, a third-year varsity player who has used that week-long sprint -- loaded with early-morning conditioning and afternoon practices -- to help him make the transition.

As Bennett and the core of football players developed what Coach David Houston called their "basketball legs," the Wolverines (7-2) had won six of seven before Tuesday's home game against West Springfield.

West Potomac defeated Mount Vernon, 70-68, in the semifinals of its run to the Mount Vernon Holiday Tournament championship, and last Friday's 52-48 victory at Lake Braddock was the team's fourth straight.

Friday's win marked the first time that West Potomac beat Lake Braddock in 10 meetings since January 2003.

"Our goal wasn't to beat Lake Braddock," said Houston, who took over the program four years ago after the team finished 2-20 and has since posted a 34-43 record. "Our goal was to win the district title."

The recent success is a sign that the gridiron stars have not only adjusted but are now providing toughness for the Wolverines, who are on pace for the program's first winning season since it went 25-1 and won the Northern Region tournament in 1998.

"I guess you could say that the football players give the team a level of toughness that wouldn't be there," said Bennett, who is averaging just under 10 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.

"He is the only pure center that I've seen [in the Northern Region] so far," Houston said of Bennett. "When he's on the floor, everybody on the defense has to account for him. They have to put two guys to account for him, so it leaves other guys open."

'Battle at the Garden'

Third-ranked Montrose Christian will play at No. 14 T.C. Williams on Saturday at 8 p.m. in a matchup that pits two of the area's top powers in a public-private school battle.

Tickets to the game, tabbed "the Battle at the Garden," will cost $8. The event will also feature a meeting of the programs' junior varsity squads at 6 p.m.

"I think these games should happen more," said T.C. Williams Coach Ivan Thomas, who thinks this is the first meeting between the teams. "It's very seldom that you get some of the top teams to play each other. I think it's good for the kids and just high school basketball in general. We will play this game every year as long as I'm here."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Chantilly Basketball

Chantilly Aims to Avoid Repeat Collapse
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, January 8, 2008; E05

With a 71-39 win over Oakton last night, Chantilly remained the only undefeated boys' basketball team in the Northern Region and one of only six undefeated teams in the Washington area.

Sixteenth-ranked Chantilly's 11-0 start is eerily similar to its undefeated start in the 2001-02 season, when the Chargers averaged 70.9 points per game and beat opponents by an average margin of 17.9 points en route to a perfect 16-0 mark.

Chantilly went into last night's game sporting nearly the same averages: scoring 72 points per game and beating teams by an average of 17.3 points.

Coach Jim Smith hopes the similarities between those two teams stop there.

"A good start doesn't get you anything," said Smith, whose 2002 team faltered down the stretch, losing five of its final eight games. Four of those losses came to teams the Chargers had already beat during their dominant start, including Oakton.

"We were talking to the kids Saturday about that and we were talking about the Oakton game," Smith said of a 67-44 victory over the Cougars on Jan. 8, 2002. "Oakton had a horrific start that season, and we played them somewhere around this time. We were undefeated and they were 1-9. We won the game, but we did not play well, and Oakton played well. The next thing you know, we are sitting at home and they are playing in the Patriot Center" in the Northern Region tournament final.

This season, Chantilly has beaten just four teams with winning records, and its 10 opponents are a combined 46-58. But the Chargers are deep: Four players are scoring in double figures, including senior guard Robbie Athearn (14.5 points per game) and 6-foot-10 freshman center John Manning (10.5 points, six rebounds).

Friday, January 04, 2008

Madison Basketball

Madison Hits Inside, Outside
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, January 5, 2008; E06

With 38 seconds left in the third quarter of Madison's 64-54 victory over visiting South Lakes last night, Warhawks senior forward Collin Flaherty had a short shot in the paint swatted away by two defenders.

Madison junior guard Omi Ogolo was stationed at the perfect place, however, to reel in the rejection and make a high-arcing three-pointer that put Madison up 44-30.

The series of events typified Madison's diverse attack, which scored 18 points in the paint to take a 33-16 lead into halftime and then relied on Ogolo's slashing and jump-shooting to close out the second half.

"I love having a strong inside presence," said Ogolo, a 6-foot guard who scored nine of his 19 points in the second half. "It gives me a lot of open shots. Our post is a dominating force."

Flaherty scored 21 points and added 12 rebounds to help Madison (9-1, 2-0 Liberty District) win its fourth straight. South Lakes (8-2, 1-1) had its eight-game win streak halted.

"If we establish the game inside first, that opens up the offense for the rest of the game," said Flaherty, a 6-3 forward who is the smallest of Madison's post players.

The Warhawks also got 15 points -- mostly on inside post moves -- from seniors Scott LeDuc, Todd Crissey and junior Will Clarkson -- all 6-5 forwards.

"When you play a team, you try to take away what they try to do," Madison Coach Chris Kuhblank said. "I feel like we can hit you both ways, inside and out."

Madison hit hard early and closed the first quarter on an 8-2 run for a 19-10 lead. It outscored the Seahawks 14-6 in the second quarter to build a 17-point lead by halftime.

South Lakes senior A.J. Price (nine points) and junior guard Thomas Mayo (12 points) combined for 12 points in the fourth quarter to cut the Warhawks' lead to six with less than two minutes left. Madison shot 9 of 14 from the free throw line to squelch the Seahawks' late rally.

Madison 64 South Lakes 54

Write It Up: On a dry-erase board in his office, Madison Coach Chris Kuhblank had the dates and scores of every South Lakes-Madison game he's coached. Kuhblank, who said he was hired specifically to beat South Lakes, has a 6-3 record against the Seahawks.

Flashback: Boston College football and baseball player Johnny Ayers and UMBC baseball player Rich Conlon -- both former Madison basketball players -- practiced with Madison on Thursday.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Boys' Basketball

Relocation Situation Click

Given the choice between staying at Falls Church and taking over the vacant coaching position at rival Stuart last spring, Tony Harris gave his son Antonio the final say.

"I don't have to take this position," Harris told his son, a 6-foot-2 guard who averaged 13.5 points per game at Falls Church last season as a freshman.

But Antonio Harris chose Stuart, and he, his father and two other players left Falls Church to join its crosstown rival, where the sophomore's 20.3 points per game have the Raiders on pace for their first winning season this decade.

When Stuart (6-3, 1-0 Virginia AAA National District) visits Falls Church (0-10, 0-1) tonight, Harris and his son will look to continue a season of revival that has come at the expense of the winless Jaguars, who lost their coach, star player and two role players in the transfer, not to mention 10 players to graduation.

"I took the job at J.E.B. Stuart and my son happened to be the best player at Falls Church and, quite naturally, he would want to play for his father at whatever high school [his father] would go to," said Tony Harris, who filed for a transfer waiver for his son, which was approved. "It's not like we left Falls Church to go to [a stronger program such as] T.C. Williams. We left Falls Church to go to a team that was slightly better, if better at all. It was a lateral move."

Both Stuart and Falls Church were 4-18 last season and have combined for a 43-151 record since 2004. In that time, neither team has won more than seven games in a season.

"I would never expect Antonio to stay at Falls Church," said Jaguars Coach T.C. Papageorge, who played for Harris at Falls Church and is the program's fourth coach in eight seasons. "It just wouldn't make sense. He grew up playing for Tony and should be playing for Tony. We are really working toward a bigger picture with the kids we have in our program."

-- By B.J. Koubaroulis, Special to The Washington Post

Hoops Notebook

More Balance for Saxons Click

The Langley boys have managed their best start in more than 20 years, despite less production from the Northern Region's scoring leader from last season, 6-foot-3 guard Ryan Davenport.

In its start, Langley (8-1) has relied on a revived supporting cast that has three players besides Davenport in double figures. And that has allowed the region's top returning threat to "play a lot more relaxed," Langley Coach Travis Hess said.

Last season, Davenport scored 584 of Langley's 1,494 points (39 percent) and led the Northern Region in scoring with 22.4 points per game. But for the most part, Langley struggled and finished 13-13.

"Last year, I had to work a lot harder to get points," said Davenport, who scored a region-high 40 points in a 69-67 double overtime loss to Woodson last January. "I had to work away from the ball, come back to the ball and make a play. To score a lot of points, I had to force some shots last year."

In the new balanced approach, 6-foot-5 senior forward Ahmed Malik, junior Derek Baker -- a transfer from O'Connell -- and junior guard Thomas Kody all are scoring in double figures, and Davenport has led Langley in scoring in just four games.

"I think our focus has been to balance things out offensively," Davenport said.

That balance was on display as Langley went 4-0 in winning the Governor's division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Tournament in San Diego, where Davenport broke the 1,000-point career scoring mark, but Baker was named the tournament's most valuable player.

"I feel like there is a lot less pressure individually," said Davenport, who is averaging 18 points per game. "[This year], in the last couple of minutes in the game, if I have to take over, I'm ready to do that, but I don't have to do that the whole game."

Malik scored 23 points in the Saxons' season-opening 58-45 win over Robinson, which marked the first time that Davenport did not lead Langley in scoring since a 63-47 win over McLean on Dec. 22, 2006.

In a 50-48 loss to McLean on Dec. 21, Davenport had a game-high 21 points, which then dropped Langley to 1-1 in games that he led the team in scoring. That loss further cemented the senior's theory that less from him will mean more for Langley this season.

"He's still our guy in the fourth quarter when things get tight," Hess said.

Learning from Tough Start

Robinson's boys started the season 0-5 against teams with a combined 29-16 record.

The Rams have since drawn on the experience gained from such a tough schedule to win two of their past four games, including a 62-57 victory over South County in last week's Bulldog Bash tournament.

That victory provided a salve for an early-season loss to the Stallions, which was the fourth of those five season-opening losses.

A 75-60 victory over Oakton on Dec. 21 gave Robinson a 1-0 start in district play.

"Not only did we have these games, but our first three were on the road," Robinson Coach Matt McKeag said. "While we didn't do well, in terms of wins and losses in those tough out-of-conference tests, that's all they were, is tests. Our team goals are all set for February and, to win in February, we have to win in the district."

--B.J. Koubaroulis, Special to The Washington Post