Life in the fast lane can be as frustrating as sweet, Ballou's first-year basketball coach, Ernest Bowman, has discovered.

Taking over the Knights' struggling program (a total of 15 victories the last two seasons), his enthusiasm and new system led to victories over Metro Conference teams Mackin and Carroll in his first five games. But in an Interhigh League game against defending champion Dunbar last month, he allowed his emotions to get the best of him.

Late in the second period, he became so angry at officials that he took his team home. Host Dunbar led, 42-21, at the time.

"I just thought the refs were calling too many fouls against us and none against them," said Bowman, an assistant for two years before taking over at the Southeast Washington school. "Dunbar was real physical and we were not going to be intimidated. I just got upset and left. Maybe I was hoping my act would send some sort of a message to the other coaches. We might not be the best team in the league, but we deserve fair treatment."

He said he hasn't been reprimanded officially and still feels he did the right thing.

"Let's say I've learned to relax a bit more since then," he said. "So far, the year has been interesting and a good challenge. I think the school is behind us and we haven't had any major problems."

The league's athletic director, Otto Jordan, said no action has been taken, but that Bowman will be notified that such behavior will not be encouraged.

Since the walkout, Ballou has played respectably. The Knights have been blown out a few times, but Bowman still hopes for a playoff berth.

Going into Tuesday's rematch against Dunbar, Ballou had won two of its last three games and was 2-7 in league play and 5-11 overall. The top six will advance to the tournament.

"We are getting some people back, and if we continue to hustle and play well, we think have hopes for the playoffs," Bowman said. "We're trying to turn things around.

"We got off to such a slow start because we lost some players to injury and academics. Losing those four guys crippled our season and forced us to do a lot of different things."

Right now, some guard-types are carrying the load. Jamie Hines, a 6-foot-2 senior, is averaging 20 points per game. He and 6-1 Wayne Monk and 6-3 Otis Howard are the most experienced players. Bowman said he expects 6-5 Carl Robinson and Charles Gilmer, both injured earlier in the year, to return in time for the second half of league play.

Area teams have been the most dominant teams in the Middle Atlantic Sports News Service top 10 rankings. DeMatha and Spingarn, the top two teams in the area, are ranked one-two in the Middle Atlantic. All Saints is sixth and Flint Hill seventh.

Bad weather forced postponement of Interhigh League games but Spingarn, 9-0 in the league, holds a two-game lead going into the second half of the league play. Each team meets twice and the Green Wave has defeated each of its nine opponents decisively.

Jordan said the teams will make up the postponed games this month. Most teams will play three games in a week.