DeMatha's Brendan Wootten took a pass and dribbled downcourt on a break. His path blocked by a defender, Wootten took an ill-advised, off-balance 16-foot shot that missed badly. The 6-foot senior peeked toward the bench where his coach and father Morgan Wootten returned his glance.

Archbishop Carroll's Washington area boys high school basketball record of having won 55 straight games was about to be broken, much to the delight of Ronny Thompson. Not only was the senior guard instrumental in helping Flint Hill break the record, but his father is Georgetown Coach John Thompson, who played on those Carroll teams and thus was an easy target for his son's teasing.

Despite the good-natured ribbing, Thompson ran to the bleachers to seek out his biggest fan -- his father -- immediately after Flint Hill defeated Theodore Roosevelt for its 56th consecutive victory.

Another member of those Carroll teams of the late 1950s and early '60s was George Leftwich. While Thompson was watching his son's team make history, Leftwich was hustling from Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, Md., where he is head varsity basketball coach, to watch either George Jr. play at Gonzaga or younger son Brian play at Georgetown Prep. He doesn't remember which son he saw that day.

For a handful of area players, being a coach's son or, for that matter, the son of the coach can at times be stressful. But the players say it is a rewarding experience.

Players like Rudy Peters III and Randy Peters try their best to live up to the expectations of their father and coach, Rudy Peters Sr., each time H.D. Woodson takes the court. Freshman Jamie Warren is in the same position, playing for his father Jim Warren at West Springfield.

The fine line between dealing with the pressure of living up to their father's expectations and trying to prove to their peers they have actually earned the right to play is a thin one. But none of them regrets their situation. 'It Certainly Has Helped'

Ronny Thompson tried to model his game after older brother John, now a senior and co-captain at Princeton. "It certainly has helped me having a coach for a father and big brother who is a fine player," said Ronny Thompson, averaging 11 points, six rebounds and three assists for the nationally ranked Falcons (14-1).

"John is so smart and I wish I could be the player he is. I know I'm just getting started and I've improved in the past year. I wanted to be more of a complete player. John tells me I'm not greedy enough, I should shoot more."

Ronny Thompson remembers how he would get annoyed at times when people would approach his father for favors.

"Now, I enjoy that," Ronny Thompson said. "I realize who he is now. I've always been in a basketball atmosphere, but my father didn't try to influence me to play.

"I would love to play for my father {at Georgetown} but we've discussed it and decided it would better if I went someplace else. And I want to go away to school."

John Thompson said he is pleased with his son's improvement the past year.

"Ronny is definitely a late bloomer," he said. "I've noticed a lot of improvement, especially on defense and I attribute that to Stu {Vetter, Flint Hill's coach}," Thompson said. "He has worked to improve and it hasn't been anything I've said or done. John developed early and Ronny is just getting started. I tried to stay away from influencing them to go into basketball, but it wouldn't have mattered much since they were always in that environment. I would have been pleased if they had tried another sport; it was just important to me that they enjoyed whatever they did." A Chip Off the Old Block

George Leftwich Jr. has heard it 1,000 times.

"A lot of people say I play like my father used to," he said. "People always tell me how good he was, but I only saw him when he was hurt. He was playing in a knee brace but still looked very good to me. He never pushed me to play basketball, but since I've chosen to play, he always offers advice and we talk a lot about the game."

Leftwich, who guided Gwynn Park to the 1987 Maryland Class A state championship in his first year as coach, can see a lot of himself in his oldest son.

"While he was coming up, I made sure he had better dribbling skills than I had," the coach said. "He's far exceeded where I thought he would be. I see a lot myself in him, only I shot a lot more. Like every parent, I'm interested in seeing my sons succeed and I go watch them every chance I get.

"My son is a very fine player, a lot smarter than I was. A lot of us look at our kids to fill a void in our lives, but I've been to the mountaintop as far as basketball is concerned and I'm glad he is playing well. And each time he gets his name in the paper, I get mine in the paper."

Gonzaga Coach Dick Myers said Leftwich, averaging 14 points and seven assists for the sixth-ranked Purple Eagles (13-2), made the switch from wing guard to point guard smoothly.

"George hurt his foot playing this summer and when he is completely healed, he will be another step quicker," Myers said, "but he plays hard every game and you never know if his foot bothers him. He penetrates well, handles the ball and, along with Jacob Morton, gives us one the best backcourts around."

Leftwich said he readily accepts criticism from his father because he respects his knowledge. "I want him to push me to be a better player," the 6-foot senior said. "My father knows how much it means to me. He really doesn't get on me too bad, mainly he encourages me. I know he looks at me like he looks at himself but he tells me to go out and play for myself. I like being compared to him." 'There Is No Favoritism'

One problem sons have by playing for their fathers is the uncertainity of whether they deserve playing time or whether they are playing because they are the coach's son. The problem is compounded by others also speculating on the situation.

Brendan Wootten, who spent much of his junior year on the bench, said he worked especially hard this past summer to earn a starting berth and eliminate any notions he played because of nepotism.

"I knew what people would say," said the 6-foot Wootten, who plays wing guard. "That's why I put in the extra time working on my game. But he treats me the same as the other guys. He hollers at me, too. There is no favoritism; he's the coach here, my father at home."

Both father and son say talk about basketball remains on the court unless something important comes up.

"Every now and then, Brendan will ask me something about the game or his play," said Morgan Wootten, one of the most successful high school basketball coaches in the nation. "I tell him what he wants to know. I don't hold back. I didn't feel guilty about not playing him as much last year although my wife told me her son should have had more time . . . I don't feel guilty about playing him now; he's earned it."

When Wootten took that errant shot in the 30-point win over Ireton recently, he got the same criticism from the coach any other player would have gotten. "I kind of chuckled to myself when I threw up that shot," said the younger Wootten. "When I came out, he told me I rushed myself and should have looked for the open man."

"Everyone gets the same criticism, the same praise," Morgan Wootten said. "I have to think about everyone and hopefully treat them equally and be the coach you would want your son or daughter to play for. I haven't found it difficult coaching Brendan. He is improved a lot, and like most players, would like to play more."

Brendan, averaging about three points and five assists a game for the No. 5 Stags (14-3), said he has no complaints with his 14-minute per game average.

"I guess when I'm out there, I could shoot more," he said. "I know I could average more points. Hey, I'm glad to be out here playing regularly."

Morgan Wootten knows he hasn't heard the last from his wife about her son's lack of playing time. Their youngest son, Joe, is on the freshman team.

"I hope to coach him, too," Morgan Wootten said. The Pressure's on Dad

Rudy Peters Sr. probably feels even more pressure than either of his sons, Rudy III or Randy.

"I think you always second-guess yourself and ask that same old question, are they good enough to be out there?" said Peters, who has coached H.D. Woodson the past decade. "Once you're convinced they belong out there, then you begin to unintentionally put demands on them to perform. As a parent, you expect them to be better than you were."

The pressure to live up to Dad's expectations doesn't bother either Rudy III or Randy. At least not now.

"It took a while to get adjusted to playing for him," said Rudy III, a senior guard averaging 10 points and four assists. "He would get on me a lot and I was trying to do everything I could to please him. Finally, he told me to just relax and play my game; do the best I could and not worry about being the star. Now, I enjoy it more. It's not so much pressure and I'm not trying to exceed any great expectations."

Randy, a junior, has benefited from the experiences of his older brother.

"I saw what Rudy went through, but I don't think he was as hard on me," said Randy, who averages about six points in a reserve role. "Rudy starts and I usually go in for him. When I went in, I wanted to show my dad how good I was. Now, I don't do that anymore. I think my dad knows I can play and he gives me enough time on the court. I wasn't the biggest guy out there; I needed some weight."

Said the elder Peters: "As a parent, I wanted them to accomplish certain goals and they have done that. I think now they take my hollering and criticism in stride. Rudy was the oldest and I got on him early. Randy has learned from Rudy and is learning very quickly. Both are good players and it's fun watching them grow. I like coaching them, no problem. They can tell when I'm displeased. I don't have to start screaming -- they can tell by the look."

Rudy and Randy nodded in agreement.