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.

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