As much time as the Brentsville boys basketball players spent in the shower last night at Manassas Park, you would have thought they had lost by 20 instead of winning their Bull Run District opener, 64-47.
The hygienic Tigers did not necessarily reach the prune-hands state from their scrubbing time, but they were tarrying long enough to irk Coach Doug Poppe and to keep Manassas Park school personnel waiting.
"After winning, you get in the shower, joke around," said senior guard Justin Thomas, who scored 23 points and had five steals.
The Tigers' game was not so squeaky clean, at least not late in the first half, when Manassas Park whittled a nine-point lead with 1 minute 10 seconds left in the second period to a two-point lead by the buzzer.
But after just 4 1/2 minutes in the third quarter, the Tigers (2-2) had run the lead to 15 and coasted from there.
"They needed an attitude check, and they got one," Poppe said. "That's what I have to say about halftime. That's the first time this year we've come out playing harder than the other team to start the second half."
Thomas got the 15-2 run started by scoring on a three-point play. Senior Chris Heiser converted inside. Senior Justin Waddle hit two free throws. Thomas scored again, this time on a feed from junior Chris Jenkins. Heiser sank two foul shots. Heiser then fed Thomas for another basket. Junior David Baker found Thomas for yet another score.
As Thomas went, so went the Tigers.
"A lot of the team does feed off what I do," Thomas said. "If I'm kind of up emotionally, I notice a lot of the guys do it. I accept that role, no problem."
First-year Brentsville coach Poppe is no doubting Thomas, which makes it all the more irritating when his most talented player is not reaching his capabilities.
"The kid can be the best athlete on the floor any time he's on the floor," Poppe said. "And I'm just going to keep telling him that until he believes it--or until he graduates."
Manassas Park looked doomed early when junior Walter Newman picked up his second foul just 2:21 into the game. He sat the rest of the first quarter but returned in the second period and played foul free until after halftime.
Newman sparkled at times, with coast-to-coast layups after defensive rebounds and with a resounding dunk. But eliciting whistles has cost him--Coach Jon Mamon said his 6-foot-4 forward has been sidelined by fouls in four games this season. And drawing fouls has not cost opponents. Newman made six of 14 free-throw attempts against Brentsville.
In the third quarter, when the Tigers made their run, they hit eight of nine free throws while the Cougars made just three of 12.
Manassas Park could add needed depth early next month when Devin Thornton and James Fitchett return from football injuries. Another football player, Nick Bertrand, has left the team.
Brentsville (2-2)--Heiser 4 5-6 13, Jenkins 1 2-2 4, Klein 1 0-0 3, Thomas 9 3-5 23, Waddle 1 2-2 4, Lavely 1 0-0 3, Baker 1 2-2 4, Jeffries 3 0-0 6, Taylor 0 0-1 0, Withers 2 0-0 4. Totals 23 14-18 64.
Manassas Park (1-5)--Newman 5 6-14 16, Ward 6 1-4 13, Slawson 0 0-0 0, Kettler 2 2-3 7, Good 0 0-0 0, Strickland 3 0-2 7, Treuting 0 0-0 0, Martin 0 0-0 0, Hopkins 1 2-2 4. Totals 17 11-25 47.
Halftime: Brentsville, 27-25.
Three-point goals: Brentsville 4 (Jenkins, Thomas 2, Lavely); Manassas Park 2 (Kettler, Strickland).
CAPTION: Michael Hopkins (50) is too late to stop Chris Jenkins of Brentsville, which used a 15-2 run in the third quarter to seize command.
CAPTION: Manassas Park defenders have Jon Jeffries surrounded, but the Tigers found a way out, winning their Bull Run District opener.
CAPTION: Chris Heiser (2) goes up for a shot against B.J. Treuting of Manassas Park, which made the game close at halftime, cutting a nine-point deficit to two by the buzzer.