Court Report Prince George's Basketball Notebook

Bishop McNamara Comes Back Strong

Bishop McNamara's Rashad Whack, left, and DeMatha's Josh Selby battle for a loose ball during DeMatha's 68-54 win Friday night at DeMatha.
Bishop McNamara's Rashad Whack, left, and DeMatha's Josh Selby battle for a loose ball during DeMatha's 68-54 win Friday night at DeMatha. (By Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)
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By Josh Barr and Dave Yanovitz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 22, 2009

With a three-game losing streak and one of its top players sidelined by a sprained ankle, Bishop McNamara showed why it is still considered one of the region's best teams.

Center Talib Zanna continued his strong play with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and forward Lawrence Smith added a season-high 15 points to lead the Mustangs to a 57-40 victory over O'Connell on Sunday. The victory ended the losing streak -- McNamara had started the season with 11 victories in 12 games -- and put the Mustangs back in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference race amid a brutal schedule.

"We've only played three home games, so I can't complain right now," McNamara Coach Marty Keithline said.

The Mustangs (12-4, 6-2 WCAC entering the week) played in a holiday tournament in Charlotte and will play in their third one-day event this season Sunday, against highly touted St. Benedict's of New Jersey in the Lehigh Valley Showcase in Allentown, Pa. St. Benedict's is led by 6-foot-8 junior Tristan Thompson, who has committed to play for Texas.

McNamara often has been led this season by Zanna, a 6-9 senior who has committed to play for Pittsburgh. And the Mustangs relied on Zanna even more heavily against O'Connell as senior forward Rashad Whack, a George Mason recruit, sat out with a sprained left ankle. Zanna, who had big games in losses last week to Gonzaga and DeMatha, responded with yet another double-double.

"He was just all over the place," Keithline said. "He's doing a lot of things for us. He hit a couple jumpers, a couple dunks, a couple big post moves. Friday [against DeMatha when Zanna had 21 points and 13 rebounds] we just didn't get him the ball enough. Our guards just got eaten up and they didn't go a good enough job getting him the ball." . . .

The hottest public school team in the county entering the week was Friendly, which takes a 10-1 record into tonight's key game at Gwynn Park; both teams are 8-0 in Prince George's 3A/2A/1A play. Senior guard A.J. Thomas averages 24.5 points per game for the Patriots, second-best among county players.

"I have the best guard in the area," Friendly Coach Rob Garner said. "That's what I believe. He does so much for our team. For him to have such a good year says a lot about him. He gets pounded every night, he gets boxed-and-one, and he keeps coming back."

Gwynn Park Coach Mike Glick said he anticipated that with an experienced backcourt and deep rotation, Friendly would be strong this season. Thomas, who averaged 16.3 points last season, has picked up his scoring, posting double figures in every game this season and hitting the 30-point mark twice.

"He scores in a variety of ways," Glick said. "He can shoot off the dribble, he can definitely shoot threes, he gets to the rim and he gets to the line a lot."

Gwynn Park (9-3) has excelled in close games this season. The Yellow Jackets have won six in a row, with only one of those victories coming by more than 10 points. Sophomore guard Brandon Ford drove the length of the court and made a game-winning jumper Friday as Gwynn Park edged Largo 59-58 for its 28th consecutive league victory.

Surrattsville Stays Solid

The Surrattsville girls have won the Maryland 1A South title the past two seasons. So, it's no surprise that the Hornets are once again having a solid season, with eight straight wins. Surrattsville is 9-2 overall, 7-1 in Prince George's 3A/2A/1A, leaving it a game behind league-leading Largo (10-2, 8-0) heading into today's matchup against Potomac (0-10, 0-7).

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