* Brentsville 79

Manassas Park 25

Nothing was going right for the Manassas Park High School girls basketball players Thursday night, when they withered against an unyielding Brentsville defense that at times made reaching the half-court line as daunting a task as sinking a basket.

When the Cougars, who committed 36 turnovers, did manage to work the ball within 25 feet of the basket early in the game--they squeezed off just four shots in their scoreless first quarter--the precious attempts glanced off the rim.

Before they knew it, they were losing 14-0 on their home court in an eventual 79-25 Bull Run District loss.

Yet, despite missing 32 of 41 shots, there were moments when the Cougars could muster some solace. Their first basket came with 5 minutes 10 seconds left in the first half, when junior Crystal Rinker plucked the rebound of a missed free throw out of a Tiger's grasp and laid it in. There was senior Chantelle Brown converting on a three-point play in the final minute of the second quarter. Sophomore Emily Key scored 11 second-half points, six on three-pointers and another three on a trio of free throws after being fouled shooting from long range.

With an inexperienced team and a growing number of lopsided defeats, Manassas Park (1-8, 0-2) will take positives wherever they can find them.

"We've improved a great deal," Coach Jon Mamon said. "We've had a couple of rough games here, and you just want to make sure they don't get their heads down. We've come a long ways."

Sometimes, traversing the length of the court seemed like a journey in itself against Brentsville, with ball-hawking senior Christy Lapihuska collecting 11 steals and turning many of them into baskets. She scored 23 points and had 15 rebounds and five assists. Junior Erin Clark added 16 points and junior Linda Presgraves scored 15 points.

The Tigers, who made 34 of 78 field-goal attempts, turned the ball over just nine times.

"They've been playing with each other year-round, and that's what we need to do," Key said. "Some of us do it, but we don't all do it. We just have to get in leagues together more."

The Tigers (3-5, 2-0), meanwhile, seem primed for their Bull Run home game Tuesday night against defending Virginia A state champion George Mason. Brentsville Coach Amy Beard was concerned about a defensive lapse late in the second quarter against Manassas Park, and she cautions that such a lull could cost the Tigers dearly against a team like George Mason.

"They got lazy, and it really wasn't flowing like it should have been," Beard said. "We can't let people cut in and out. [George Mason moves] a lot on offense and creates their own shots, so we need to stop that."

Brentsville (3-5, 2-0)--Lapihuska 10 1-2 23, Presgraves 6 1-2 15, Blankenship 3 0-0 6, Miles 0 2-2 2, Clark 8 0-0 16, Thomas 4 2-6 10, Powell 1 0-0 2, Englehart 2 1-2 5. Totals 34 7-14 79.

Manassas Park (1-8, 0-2)--Ward 1 0-0 2, Rinker 1 0-0 2, Madden 0 0-2 0, Brown 2 2-3 6, Spindle 2 0-3 4, Key 3 3-5 11. Totals 9 5-13 25.

Halftime: Brentsville, 34-8.

Three-point field goals: Brentsville 4 (Lapihuska 2, Presgraves 2); Manassas Park 2 (Key 2).