Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Webster's 28 Sparks Landon Over Chantilly

Webster's 28 Sparks Landon Over Chantilly

By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 31, 2008; E03

Landon senior guard Christian Webster passed up his first three open looks at the basket in last night's 72-60 victory over No. 12 Chantilly in the championship game of the Pohanka Chantilly Classic tournament.

It was clear he was intent on getting his teammates involved. It was on this court last season when he learned a hard lesson in the value of sharing.
"I came out tonight and it didn't matter how many points I scored as long as we won," said Webster, a 6-foot-4 guard and a McDonald's all-American candidate, who finished with 28 points last night and 85 for the tournament en route to his second straight tournament most valuable player award. "It feels a heck of a lot better than last year."

In last season's 94-86 tournament final loss to the Chargers, Webster scored half of his team's points -- a 43-point coming-out party that gave him 83 for the three-day 2007 event.
"I asked him: 'How do you feel about that? Having a career-high and an amazing performance, but not getting the win," Bears Coach Andy Luther said. "He wants to have the recognition, but we have a pretty good understanding and he and I have talked a lot about how to make that happen, and that's by winning."

Webster, who was one of the area's leading scorers with 26.8 points per game in the Bears' 11-13 finish last season, has retained his scoring edge, producing 28.8 points per game, and last night he added 11 rebounds, six assists and strong defense. He held Chantilly's standout guard Justin May to seven points while displaying a command of the court that showed he's more than just a scorer.

"He's wanted to shoulder more in terms of being responsible in multiple ways of creating wins," Luther said.

Webster was passive for much of the first quarter, helping four other Landon players get in the scoring column. Sophomore center Darion Atkins finished with 11 points and helped defend Chantilly 6-11 center John Manning. Danny Rubin added 10 for the Bears (7-2).

Webster had 10 points at halftime to help Landon to a 34-32 lead, then 14 in the second half to hand Chantilly (9-1) its first loss.

Landon 72, Chantilly 60

Charging to the Final: Chantilly has appeared in 14 of the tournament's 16 title games, winning six.

Girls' Champion: In last night's girls' final, West Springfield's Sam Landers (15 points) shot 4 for 11 from the field, 6 for 6 from the free throw line, hit her only three-point attempt and added five rebounds and four assists to lift the Spartans (9-1) to a 60-47 victory over Mills Godwin.

Monday, December 29, 2008

FiOS1, Verizon's Local TV Channel to Broadcast Two George Mason University Games

FiOS1, Verizon's Local TV Channel, To Do Live Broadcasts of Two George Mason University Basketball Games

FAIRFAX, Va., Dec. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Verizon's FiOS1 local TV channel will broadcast live two George Mason University CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) conference basketball games in January and February from the university's Patriot Center here.

FiOS TV customers can see two exciting matchups -- on Jan. 5 when the Patriots take on Georgia State University at 5:07 p.m., and on Feb. 18 when the Patriots host Drexel University at 7:07 p.m.

"FiOS1 delivers content that demonstrates our commitment to local communities," said Michelle Webb, executive producer and general manager of FiOS1. "We're proud to bring our subscribers in the area live coverage of NCAA men's Division I college basketball as the Patriots battle it out on the court in two CAA conference matchups."

B.J. Koubaroulis will call both games along with Craig Esherick, a former Georgetown University head coach and assistant basketball coach and scout for the U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

The George Mason Patriots are led by head coach Jim Larranaga, the Patriots' and CAA's all-time leader in wins, in his 12th season with the school. Larranaga led the Patriots to the Final Four in March 2006.

FiOS1, Verizon's first local TV channel, offers a one-stop shop for local weather, traffic, news, sports and community features. FiOS1 is available on Channel 1 in the Verizon FiOS TV channel lineup in northern Virginia and parts of Maryland, and is available at no extra cost to Verizon FiOS TV subscribers.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chantilly's Bench Comes Up Big

Chantilly's Bench Comes Up Big

With Star Center in Foul Trouble, Howerton Pitches In
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special To The Washington Post
Sunday, December 21, 2008; D12

Chantilly junior forward Matt Howerton wasn't quite sure how to react to the standing ovation he received as he strolled to the bench late in the fourth quarter of last night's 87-69 nondistrict victory over visiting Lee.

With his head down as he strolled off the court, he nearly missed the line of outstretched hands as each of his teammates reached out to tap, high-five or chest-bump the unheralded backup.

Howerton, a thick, 6-foot-3 scrapper who is learning to play the power forward position after being a junior varsity center last season, knows that the Chargers' bench usually reserves its standing ovations for much better known players like reigning Virginia AAA Concorde District player of the year Justin May -- a senior guard who is averaging 12.8 points per game -- and sophomore center John Manning.

"But both Justin and I both have good backups," said Manning (11 points), one of the area's most coveted recruits in the class of 2011. "People don't realize how deep we are. Most teams in this region don't go 13 deep."

Howerton proved Manning's point, scoring six of his 11 points in the third quarter as the wiry 6-11 starting center sat the bench in foul trouble.

Howerton was just one of six Chargers that scored in double-figures as No. 12 Chantilly (7-0, 2-0 Virginia AAA Concorde District) rolled to its seventh straight victory and handed Lee (3-2, 1-1 Patriot District) its third loss in four games.

"We have a lot of depth and anyone can come on at any time," Howerton said.

May's backup Kethan Savage, a sophomore guard, scored seven points in the first quarter, while three-point threat Adam Fridy chipped in seven of his 17 in the third as the Chargers extended their 10-point halftime lead to 17 by the end of the quarter.

The Chargers' depth is "very key because we don't get a lot of competition in the district except for Westfield and Herndon," said May (17 points), "so we have to go hard in practice and that's where we get better."

But the Chargers' depth also could be vital in helping them atone for last season's disappointing finish.

Chantilly won 21 of its first 23 games last season before posting back-to-back losses in its conference tournament final to rival Westfield and a season-ender to Annandale in the first round of the Virginia AAA Northern Region tournament.

"It's in the back of our minds," May said.

No. 12 Chantilly 87, Lee 69

Same Face, New Place: Senior 6-5 forward Frank Holloway Jr. led Lee in scoring with 16 points. Holloway Jr., who played for T.C. Williams as a freshman and led West Potomac in scoring last season with 15.8 points per game before suffering a season-ending injury, is playing for his third high school team.
Concorde Giants: Chantilly has beaten its first two district opponents by 20 points apiece.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mustangs' Balance Too Much For Paul VI

Mustangs' Balance Too Much For Paul VI
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, December 20, 2008; E07

It took a moment for Bishop McNamara senior Talib Zanna to realize he had been injured on his first shot attempt -- a pump fake that drew his defender's chin deep into the muscle on his right forearm, near his elbow.

It wasn't until midway through the following free throw -- an air ball that sent the rowdy crowd at Paul VI Catholic last night into a screaming frenzy -- that he realized he could barely move his arm.He turned, pointed to the limp arm and went to the bench for much of the first and second quarter of the third-ranked Mustangs' 55-50 win at No. 13 Paul VI. Coaches and trainers attended to him, and at one point an assistant coach gripped the back of the player's head as Zanna buried his face in his chest.

"I was scared," said Zanna, a 6-foot-9 Pittsburgh-bound forward who entered last night's key Washington Catholic Athletic Conference matchup leading the Mustangs with 16.5 points per game.

But even without Zanna for most of the first half, McNamara (5-0, 2-0) found its swagger, relying on nine different scorers in the win."Everybody stepped up," said George Mason-bound senior guard Rashad Whack, one of the area's top three-point threats, who led the Mustangs with 13 points last night. "Even though we didn't have a big man, we were able to defend the post and box out and play good defense."

With Zanna on the bench, McNamara relied on 6-7 junior forward Brandon Coleman to police the inside against a strong Panthers post presence in Raven Barber (Mount Saint Mary's) and Eugene McCrory -- a duo that Coleman helped hold to a combined 14 points. In the meantime, McNamara's speedy guards held Virginia Tech-bound point guard and All-Met Erick Green (11 points) in check.

"I don't back down when I get called into the game, I take it as an opportunity," said Coleman, who finished with seven points, six rebounds and one block.

Zanna returned late in the second quarter and came alive in the second half to score six of his eight points. He owned the inside with three blocks, two altered shots and five rebounds to help the Mustangs close out a tight second half, during which Paul VI (7-1, 2-1) cut the lead to two on four separate occasions but couldn't close the gap.

Paul VI entered last night's game averaging 65.8 points per game.

"Our goal is to keep teams under 55 points this year," Mustangs Coach Marty Keithline said.

No. 3 McNamara 55, No. 13 Paul VI 50
Running the Gantlet: In facing No. 17 Flint Hill (5-1) today, Paul VI will continue a four-week stretch during which it will face some of the area's best, including No. 1 DeMatha, No. 5 Gonzaga, No. 8 Riverdale Baptist, No. 11 Good Counsel and No. 6 O'Connell. Help at the Line: Paul VI shot 16 for 21 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Foul Trouble Doesn't Slow Down Eagles

Foul Trouble Doesn't Slow Down Eagles
Host Claims Gonzaga D.C. Classic Title
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, December 15, 2008; E06

Gonzaga senior center Patrick Wolf hung his head as he pulled his white, sopping wet jersey over the bridge of his nose. His chest heaved as he tried to wipe the seemingly unstoppable stream of sweat that poured over his red-blazoned cheeks. Each step toward the locker room for his halftime rest looked painful.

A rugby player who is built more like an offensive lineman, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound redhead was trying to catch his breath after playing an uncharacteristically high number of first-half minutes in last night's 62-42 victory over St. John's (D.C.) in the Gonzaga D.C. Classic Tournament championship game at Bender Arena.

"I'm just not used to that many minutes, consecutively, but I'll take minutes when I can get them," said Wolf, who found himself in the thick of things midway through the second quarter as guard Tyler Thornton and starter Malcolm Lemmons were sent to the bench with two fouls apiece and the game tied at 17.

"This season is going to be defined by which guys step up," said Wolf, one of several role players who helped the No. 5 Eagles clinch their eighth title in the event.

As St. John's (3-2) looked to turn the Eagles' seventh turnover into a one-on-one, tiebreaking bucket, Wolf got back down court, slid his feet into position, crossed his arms over his chest and absorbed a game-swinging charge that brought the Eagles' bench to its feet and sparked a 9-6 quarter-closing run that put Gonzaga (5-1) up 26-23 at halftime.

Wolf was just one of several role players who helped the Eagles survive a strong St. John's push while Thornton (16 points) and Lemmons (10 points) were on the bench. Andrew Sterritt, Cahli Thomas and William Saffron played quality minutes and helped to alleviate defensive pressure on Princeton-bound forward Ian Hummer (13 points) and Cedric Lindsay -- a speedy guard who scored nine of Gonzaga's 15 second-quarter points and finished with a game-high 17.

"This is a game that we needed so that we can see who was going to step up when things got hectic," said Thornton, who returned in the third and scored 15 of his 16 to fuel a game-clinching 36-19 second half run. "We try not to compare ourselves to last year, but we can have the same success. We just have to approach it in a different way."

Last season, the Purple Eagles went 34-1 in winning the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular season, WCAC tournament championship, D.C. City Title game and the prestigious Alhambra Catholic Invitational tournament. Gonzaga closed the season on a dominant 17-game winning streak en route to The Post's No. 1 ranking as well as a number of top-five national rankings.

Wolf, Thomas and Sterritt are "all guys that battled on a team last year that won it all, and now it's their turn," Gonzaga Coach Steve Turner said.

In a third-place consolation meeting between two area teams, No. 14 Coolidge (5-2) rolled past Bullis (2-4), 68-43, on the strength of Florida Atlantic-bound senior forward Andre Mattison's 10 points, 10 blocks and 7 rebounds.

"He's going to be the focal point of our interior this year," Coach Vaughn Jones said.

South Lakes Shows That It's Still Strong

South Lakes Shows That It's Still Strong
By B.J. Koubaroulis

Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 17, 2008; E06

Caught in the doorway between the locker room and his office, South Lakes Coach Darryl Branch placed his open palm on senior guard Travis Williams's chest -- a near stiff-arm that jolted the 5-foot-10 senior guard.

"Act civilized," Branch told Williams and a rowdy stampede of his teammates last night as they charged a box of hot dogs -- their postgame reward for a 50-39 victory over visiting Virginia AAA Liberty District foe Madison.

Williams, who scored a team-high 19 points on a variety of pull-up jumpers, three-pointers and slashing drives to the basket, was perfectly composed going into last night's district opener. He and his teammates showed focus, and once again South Lakes (3-1, 1-0) appears to be a force in the Northern Region.

"Every team is special, but this team is special to me," said Branch, who has spent 15 years at his alma mater, most recently replacing his former coach and mentor Wendell Byrd two seasons ago.

Although Williams is the Seahawks' only returning starter, almost every other Seahawk was on Branch's junior varsity team two years ago -- a 15-1 squad that he believes might have the same success at the varsity level.

"It's a gradual progression," Branch said. "Why not?"

While Williams entered last night as the district's leading scorer, averaging 21.3 points per game, players such as 6-foot-5 senior forward Jamal Hulum and speedy senior three-point threat Steve Kerr were less heralded. Senior forward Brandon Price might have best been known because of his brother A.J. Price -- a football, basketball and track star who is a wide receiver at Penn State.

However, Price, Hulum and Kerr combined for 12 points and drew pressure away from Williams, who scored four, during a 16-4 third-quarter run that helped South Lakes recover from a 21-19 halftime deficit.

Madison fell to 3-3, 0-1.

"A lot of people don't know these guys," said Williams, who scored 34 points in a season-opening 73-46 victory over Heritage. "Don't look for them to come soft. We are the underdogs this year, and we are going to prove to everybody that we are in the top of the district this year."

Price scored seven last night but had 15 in a 73-68 victory over rival Herndon last week and is a "real matchup problem," Branch said.

Hulum, who had nine points, six rebounds and four blocks, prefers to "fly under the radar," he said. "I like surprising people."

South Lakes 50 Madison 39 Will Power: Madison's Will Clarkson, a quarterback who threw for more than 700 yards and led the Warhawks to the Division 5 football playoffs this fall, had 16 points last night and is averaging a team-high 17.6 points per game. Ogolo Mending: In his second game back after recovering from surgery this fall, Madison guard Omi Ogolo scored six points.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ruffin-Pratt Hits 2,000-Point Mark

Ruffin-Pratt Hits 2,000-Point Mark
T.C. Williams Star Scores 34 to Lead Titans Past Edison
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, December 13, 2008; E07

T.C. Williams senior Tierra Ruffin-Pratt kept her wrist cocked high in the air after each of her three three-pointers fell through the net. She shook her head with a confident smile as she trotted down the floor after making a pull-up jumper, taking time to slap hands, pat backs and even play a few tricks on teammates and coaches near the bench during the Titans' 62-49 victory last night over visiting Edison.

More than the obvious talent, it was the 6-foot North Carolina-bound All-Met Player of the Year's attitude that spoke volumes about her health and the Titans' chances this season.

"The last two games my shot wasn't really falling and I wasn't scoring as much as I wanted to be, but my shot was going in tonight and I was happy," said Ruffin-Pratt, who scored 34 points and eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for her high school career.

Ruffin-Pratt scored 11 points and spearheaded a tenacious defense that forced Edison into 12 of its 24 turnovers during a furious 18-4 first-quarter run.

The victory pulled the Titans (1-2) out of a season-opening slump and served notice that the Alexandria school is once again a threat for a region title. The win against Edison (2-1), a team that has won two of the last three region titles and made two state final appearances since 2003, was a statement.

"This is a sign of how good we can be," said Ruffin-Pratt, whose Titans won 22 straight games last season before she separated her left shoulder and was sidelined as the team suffered a season-ending region playoff loss.

Ruffin-Pratt, who reinjured the shoulder during the under-17 USA Basketball national team tryouts in May, is wearing a shoulder brace to "keep it from slipping out again," she said.

"It's a lot of pressure off me now because all the college stuff is over, and now I can worry about being out on the court and just having fun my last year," said Ruffin-Pratt, who last month committed to North Carolina, ending a long recruitment that began when she was in middle school.

"This is the first time this year she's felt like that," said Cavanaugh Hagen, the Titans' third coach in four years. "Tonight was the first time seeing her go for a pull-up jumper with a hand in her face and knocking it down like she can."

Titans Boys Win

In the second game of the night's doubleheader, T.C. Williams's Edward Jenkins (19 points) and Ryan Yates (16 points) were two of nine Titans who scored in a 68-59 win over visiting Edison (1-4). The victory indicated that despite losing four college signees and All-Met Coach of the Year Ivan Thomas from last year's 29-3 state championship squad, the No. 16 Titans (2-0) are still a force.

"Our talent pool in Alexandria is deep, so we're going to be very good for a very long time," Yates said.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Eric Green Video

Eric Green Video

Check out this video I produced for Washingtonpost.com, where bright young talented journalist Matthew Stanmyre gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at his feature about Virginia Tech-bound point guard Eric Green, a senior who transferred from Millbrook to Paul VI in order to prepare himself for college basketball.

Video by B.J. Koubaroulis