The Wootten Touch
Joe Wootten, son of Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten, showed he has learned his lessons well. His Bishop O'Connell team easily defeated Georgetown Prep 72-57 in the opening game. I must say however that this was not the Georgetown team that everyone expected to see. 7'0 sophomore center Roy Hiibbert was out with a fractured foot, as well as 6'9 soph Davis Nwankwo.
The game had the feel and flow of a JV contest. Both teams are young, but talented. Bishop O'Connell boasts one of the nations top sophomores, 6'9 Brian Johnson, who lists UNC as his favorite school.
Without Georgetown's two big men, Johnson should have had his way in the paint. But Georgetown used a sagging zone to limit him to 10 points. Johnson also took a nasty spill in the 1st half, and had to sit for several minutes. The talent is there however, as he showed a nice touch and ran the floor like a gazelle.
Leading the scoring for O'Connell was senior Ahmad Smith (St. Bonaventure) with 21 points. Also impressive were soph wing Freddie Stanback with 19 points and polished freshman Marcus Ginyard. Ginyard, at 6'4, showed great poise, and is one to watch in the class of 2005.
The Master At Work
Legendary coach Morgan Wootten showed once again that he is the master, as his DeMatha Stags defeated a stubborn Amityville, NY team 63-59.
DeMatha's guard play was the difference, as Corey McCrae, Warrren Williams (10 points 5 assists, and 5 rebounds) and Chris Stephenson played smart disciplined basketball and took advantage of several fast break opportunities.
The marquee match up of Jason Fraser and Travis Garrison proved to be misleading as they rarely guarded each other. Fraser (Villanova), showed why he was one of the most sought after big men in the 2002 class. He is a gifted defender with long arms, who loves to snatch rebounds and turn and fire pinpoint outlet passes to his guards.
Most all of Fraser's baskets were thundering dunks and put backs, but he did hit a surprising three from deep in the corner, late in the second half. His final stat line: 22 points, 21 rebounds and 3 blocks. He fouled out with about a minute left to play.
A.J. Price a talented sophomore guard was the only other Amityville player to score in double figures, finishing with 19 points.
DeMatha's Garrison (Maryland), while not as explosive and athletic as Fraser, showed a nice mid range jumper and finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 1 block. He is another excellent ACC recruit.
DeMatha had better balance in their scoring as three players scored in double figures and another player, Stephenson, had 9 points. 6'7 junior Steve Danley complimented Garrison with 11 points and 10 rebounds and had the task of guarding Fraser much of the contest.
In the end, it was DeMatha's better team play and execution that overcame Amityville's one man highlight show.
Oak Hill Continues Win Streak
The night's prime time match up between #2 Oak Hill and #13 Tabor Academy seemed to be a mismatch on paper, especially with the fact that Steve Smith's squad was playing their ninth game, while Tabor was playing in their second contest. Oak Hill managed to escape with a 62-55 win, but Tabor didn't go down without a fight.
Tabor jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead on two threes by senior James Parker. You could sense some uneasiness in the 6,197 in attendance who were expecting to see a run and gun Oak Hill route. That was not to be this night. Tabor played a very deliberate, patient game, staying within 7-11 point range all evening.
Oak Hill maintained their composure leading 11-10 at the end of the 1st quarter. Tabor would never get any closer.
Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse), with 23 points and 10 rebounds, was easily the game's outstanding player. From his opening flying Tracy McGrady-like dunk, he continually got behind Tabor's zone for layups and put backs. His ability to hang in the air and adjust his shot made him impossible to stop.
On the other hand, the big man match up between Torin Francis (Notre Dame) and Sani Ibrahim was a letdown. Torin struggled the entire game. He missed his first 7 shots from the field and picked up three quick fouls in the first half, sending him to the bench with 3 minutes left before halftime. Ibrahim also had foul problems and barely played in the second half, finishing with a lackluster 2 points and 2 rebounds.
Oak Hill's Chadd Moore came off the bench to contribute 12 points and several steals.
Tabor's best performances came from sophomores Charles Burch, 11 points, and Khaliq Gant, also with 11, all in the second half off of 3-3 shooting from 3 point range.
The difference in the game was the guard play for Oak Hill. Tabor's point struggled all night breaking the press and Tabor hurt themselves at the charity stripe missing 19 free throws.
Oak Hill's coach Steve Smith was glad to get out with a win and kept his 42 consecutive game win streak alive.
Notes & Quotes
Jason Fraser on Carolina and his decision…"Carolina didn't do nothing wrong, they did everything right. Nothing happened wrong, I just didn't feel it anymore in my heart, so it wasn't fair for me to hold that school up. That's why I called them as soon as I knew I was feeling that way. I checked up on the website and saw that there were two other big men targets for them, and I didn't want to be selfish and hold them up. I'm not that kind of person."
Torin Francis on Tabor's loss to Oak Hill… "This is a learning experience for our team. We still have two national tournaments coming up, we just got to get ready for them."
Sani Ibrahim on his academics and future… "Right now my options are open, I'm just trying to get my grades up and see what's going to happen."
Carmelo Anthony on playing for Oak Hill…"We've got a bullseye on our back, everybody wants to beat us."
Justin Gray on Oak Hills reputation..."We just have to play every team like we're the underdogs, that's how we approach each game."
All in all it was a good event, attendance could have been better, but a full day of good basketball. The underclassmen, Brian Johnson, Freddie Stanback, Marcus Ginyard, A.J. Price, Khaliq Gant, and Charles Burch all showed they could play with the big boys and will be names to watch in the future. Enjoyed talking hoops with Leo Papile Director of Player Personnel for the Boston Celtics, Clint Jackson, Rob Matera, Dave Telep, Michael Kruse, and Harry Douglas. Next event …City of Palms, Ft. Myers Fla. Dec. 18-22.