Shortly after the opening tip of the late evening first-round matchup at the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational, it became apparent that the senior wing has assumed the new responsibility for Bishop O'Connell (Va.).
Ginyard attacked the hoop with authority, drawing fouls, and when the defender sagged back, he fired jumpers.
By the time the first quarter was over, the future Tar Heel had already amassed 11 points and 5 rebounds -- remarkably close to his junior season (full game) averages.
"It's something that we knew was going to need to happen this year," said Ginyard of his enhanced scoring duty. "So I'm just stepping up into my role this year. It hasn't been that easy. It's been a work in progress but it's going well."
"Going well" was an understatement, at least on Monday night at Reynolds Coliseum. In the second quarter, Ginyard continued where he left off, freezing the defender with a between-the-legs dribble and nailing a three, then swishing a baseline jumper and a couple plays later creating a tough short-range score off the dribble.
At halftime, with O'Connell leading Apex (N.C.), 31-29, in a surprisingly close contest, Ginyard had 18 points.
Perhaps it was the large crowd rooting for the opposition, or the impact of a late game in a new venue, but O'Connell was not playing up to its reputation as one of Washington DC's top prep squads. And when Ginyard sat on the bench in the third quarter for his first lengthy rest of the game, O'Connell nearly collapsed. By the time Ginyard returned, they trailed 50-41 and were in danger of heading to the consolation bracket.
Marcus Ginyard, the scorer, had kept O'Connell in this game. But now Marcus Ginyard, the leader, emerged in full force.
"I told them all in the huddle, ‘We're going to pick this up right now – we're not going to lose this game,'" Ginyard recalled. "And everybody in there believed that and we were a totally different team late in the fourth quarter."
With Ginyard back on the floor, the defensive intensity increased and the offensive execution improved.
"In the fourth quarter we played the way we should have all game," said O'Connell head head coach Joe Wootten. "We got our defensive stops at the end of the game, settled down and ran our stuff. To Marcus' credit, he fed the ball inside a bunch of times and then when they backed off him he hit a couple big threes."
Ginyard's two three-pointers late closed the deficit, while strong team defense and accurate foul shooting sealed the 63-60 win.
The final stat line for Ginyard read 26 points (10-18 FG, 3-4 3pt, 3-4 FT), eight rebounds and four assists.
"There's a difference between a great scorer and a great basketball player – and I think he's a great basketball player, which is a lot more important to me," Wootten said of Ginyard. "He's done a great job [as our go-to scorer] and played really well tonight. But he does it within in the flow of the team, which makes any coach happy and will make Roy Williams happy when he gets there."
The Tar Heel head coach, meanwhile, was seated front-row, center court for the game.
Ginyard and O'Connell will face Bunn (N.C.) in the semifinal matchup Tuesday at 9 p.m. Bunn stunned Christian Brothers (N.Y.), which stars Duke-bound Greg Paulus, earlier in the evening. Ginyard will likely be assigned to guard Bunn star Freddy Little, a long-range ace that lit up Christian Brothers for 25 first-half points.