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.

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