Oxon Hill Coach Billy Lanier reviewed the stat sheet from his team's 88-52 4A league victory over Crossland last Friday, but what impressed him most wasn't represented on pen and paper.
The second-ranked Clippers' press defense led to the bulk of Crossland's 25 turnovers and pleased Lanier greatly. Those turnovers led to 36 Oxon Hill points.
"That was our best game defensively," Lanier said. "I thought for the most part our press was very effective from start to finish, and it was a big reason why we were able to win."
Lanier hopes for a repeat this week, because the Clippers (5-0 overall, 5-0 league) will count heavily on their defense at the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament in Lewes, Del. The tournament could present Oxon Hill with perhaps its toughest three-game stretch of the season.
In the three-game tournament that does not have a championship round, Oxon Hill will play ninth-ranked Gonzaga at 5:30 p.m. today, defending New York City public school champion Abraham Lincoln at 2:30 p.m. Friday and Good Counsel at 10 a.m. Saturday.
"We've established ourselves as one of the best teams in the area," Oxon Hill senior guard Chris Pugh said, "but if we can win all three games, we can show that we are one of the best teams in the nation."
Last season at the same tournament, the Clippers defeated St. Augustine (Fla.), eventual Virginia AAA champion Cave Spring and Winston Woods (Ohio).
Though Gonzaga and Good Counsel are two of the better teams in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, Lincoln is a squad with a national reputation. It is led by 5-foot-11, 170-pound point guard Sebastian Telfair, considered by many analysts to be the best high school junior in the country. Telfair is a cousin of Phoenix Suns point guard Stephon Marbury.
"I don't know how we are going to guard him," Lanier said. "I've been told he can dribble through five guys at one time. So trying to stop him will be a big challenge for us."
Raiders Build for March Eleanor Roosevelt boys' basketball coach Glenn Farello said he is not upset that his team has gotten off to a 2-5 start. The Raiders are coming off their first Maryland 4A basketball title.
"We got off to the same start last season, and things turned out fine," Farello said. "I use December as a building block to build our team for March. And besides, look who we've played."
The Raiders have lost to top-ranked O'Connell, second-ranked Oxon Hill, then-No. 6 Spalding, then-No. 17 Suitland and Northwestern, which entered The Washington Post's top 20 this week at No. 18 after opening the season 4-1.
Eleanor Roosevelt will next will play No. 6 Spingarn at 4 p.m. today at the Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament. The Raiders play Hopkins (Minn.), which is ranked No. 13 by USA Today, at 1 p.m. Friday.
"I don't think there is a team in area who has played a tougher schedule so far than we have," Farello said. "But we've gotten better, and we've played better as a team the last couple of games than we did in our first few games."
Crusaders Up, Mustangs Down The Riverdale Baptist and Bishop McNamara girls' basketball teams came back from national tournaments in Florida and Phoenix headed in opposite directions.
Riverdale Baptist, playing in the Kruehl Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, defeated Tabor Academy (Mass.), 67-58, in the opening round Dec. 19 before posting a 58-54 victory over then-No. 4 West Springfield.
The Crusaders (10-4) advanced to the semifinals before losing to South Broward (Fla.), 68-64, in double overtime. It rounded out its four-game tournament by playing Deerfield (Fla.) in Monday's third-place game. Results were not available by press time.
"Our cohesiveness as a team was tremendous," Riverdale Baptist Coach Diane Richardson said. "We are playing very well right now, the best we have all season."
McNamara, competing in the Nike Invitational in Phoenix, lost two of three games against teams that were ranked by USA Today. The Mustangs (9-3) have lost three games this season -- all against teams ranked by USA Today -- to equal their loss total from last season, when they finished a school-best 27-3.
McNamara opened its tournament with losses to No. 14 Canyon (Texas), 58-50, on Thursday and No. 5 Oregon City (Ore.), 67-61, on Friday. It beat Highlands Ranch (Colo.), 63-41, to conclude its tournament Saturday.
"We saw what it takes to compete on this level," McNamara Coach Mike Bozeman said. "I think we learned a lot from this trip, though, and when we come home, we are going to be a very, very tough team to beat."