The Brentsville boys' basketball team learned an unlikely lesson in winning the Dudley Martin Chevrolet Holiday Classic: Sometimes an unhealthy Brian Owen can be even more effective than a healthy one.
Battling bronchitis, senior guard Owen erupted for a career-high 36 points in a 71-56 win over Virginia AA school James Wood in the tournament championship.
"He didn't think about basketball -- he was too busy thinking about being sick, and everything he shot and touched went in," Tigers Coach Doug Poppe said. "When he doesn't think about things, he's a much better player."
What most pleased Poppe is that Owen's shots came within the parameters of the team-oriented offense, though the Tigers did make a concerted effort to get him open looks. Owen sank six of eight three-point attempts.
While tournament most valuable player Owen was shining on offense, senior forwards Sam Huff and Louis Spriggs were clamping down on James Wood junior forward Brad Parkes, who scored a season-low 13 points. Parkes had scored 23 points in each of the first two tournament games.
Brentsville (5-4), the defending regular season Bull Run District champion, hosts defending district tournament champion Clarke County tomorrow. The teams met in the district final last year.
Championship Defense The Hylton football team that won the Virginia AAA Division 6 state championship last month was known for its defense. A Hylton basketball team that includes seven of those players might earn a similar reputation if a 54-35 win over the host team in the Mount Vernon Christmas Tournament is any indication.
Mount Vernon entered the final averaging 61.5 points but never got into an offensive rhythm thanks in part to the defensive job that Hylton senior guard Jerome Quinata did on senior guard Yemi Fadahunsi, who had to work for his 17 points, five below his average.
Hylton junior forward Jermaine Hill, the tournament most valuable player, has notched a double-double in the team's first four games, all victories.
Because of football, the Bulldogs had just a few practices with all team members involved. Even so, the transition has been smoother this winter because many of the players were in the program last year, Kevin Brown's first as coach.
"Just being in that atmosphere and practicing against those guys last year has helped them," Brown said. "They're pretty anxious to establish their own identity."
The Forest Park girls won the Bulldog Bash Holiday Tournament at Westfield, with wins over Hayfield, Westfield and Robinson, teams with a collective 20-6 record.
Five-foot-9 Bruins freshman forward Monica Wright, who scored 45 points against what was often taller opposition, was named most valuable player.
"She gives us an inside presence, and that's something we haven't had, but I'm enforcing to get the ball down low," said Forest Park Coach Chrissy Kelly, who's 14th-ranked squad is 8-0. "I'm making sure the guards make sure to bounce it in, so we stop shooting ourselves out of the game. She's an athlete and a half; her ability to jump and pull down offensive rebounds has been a great thing."
Gar-Field (6-3) lost two of three tournament games, but senior center Jessica Peters totaled 51 points in the outings.
Down, but They Didn't Cave The Osbourn boys reached the finals of the Member One Holiday Hoopla at the Salem Civic Center, a feat that seemed unlikely when they trailed host Cave Spring, the Virginia AAA state champion last season, by 17 at the half of their first-round game.
The Eagles (7-3) regrouped to rally for a 63-60 overtime victory thanks in part to 15 second-half points from senior forward Brandon Oglesby and three clutch free throws from senior forward Jarel Moore in the extra period. Junior guard Kevin Arvai hit a three-pointer in overtime to give the Eagles the lead for good.
"It was a really pro-Cave Spring crowd," Osbourn assistant coach Brandon Garry said. "It was the most excited I'd seen our bench all year. We talked about the energy we were getting from everybody.
"We kind of proved some things to ourselves. We found some things within ourselves we didn't know were there."
In the next round, the Eagles trailed Patrick Henry-Roanoke by double digits early but took the lead by halftime and held on for a 58-52 win. In the final, Osbourn stormed ahead 11-0 on Roanoke Catholic before fading in an 84-59 loss.
Gar-Field (5-3), which won two of three games at the Salem event and got 23 points each from senior Demetrius Howard and junior Chris Vann in the team's third game, hosts Osbourn tomorrow. The Indians have won 12 straight in the series.
Oglesby and Vann each made the all-tournament team.
Tall Order In dropping two of three games at the Denbigh Holiday Classic, the Potomac boys discovered that tallish, athletic post players are no easier to guard in Newport News than they are in suburban Washington.
The Panthers erased a 10-point second-half deficit to beat Largo (Md.) in the first round (in part by making 14 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter), then got blown out by Princess Anne and lost to Herndon in a tight game.
"We found out we still have trouble covering big guys, and that more than anything is our number one problem at this point in the season," Potomac Coach Kendall Hayes said, referring to the 73-46 loss in the second game. "We're going to have to help out a little bit more with our guards doubling down, and perhaps play bigger post people in a different fashion, but we'll figure it out."
The Panthers' leading scorer in the tournament was freshman Eric Hayes, with 41 points.
Potomac (7-2) plays at Woodbridge (6-3) tomorrow. The Vikings won two of three games in the Riverdale Baptist Holiday Classic, sinking 25 three-pointers and 31 two-pointers.
"With us, we have to shoot the ball well," Vikings Coach Will Robinson said. "The one game we didn't shoot the ball very well [a 59-56 loss to Friendly] it cost us the game."
AAA for Effort
The Manassas Park boys wanted to test themselves against AAA competition in the Fairfax City Auto Dealers Holiday Classic, and although they got trounced twice, they were able to notch a win against a school that plays in the state's largest classification.
A 67-57 victory over Stuart was sandwiched by a 46-30 loss to Centreville and a 71-44 loss to Washington-Lee. The Cougars were outscored by just one point in the second half of the W-L game, making it a moral victory of sorts. Senior guard Sidney Welch totaled 46 points in the three games.
"That's going to help us hugely down the road," Cougars Coach Bob Schaul said of the AAA experience. "That's a lot of confidence right there, showing we can play with the big boys. We're not going to see this type of talent through the rest of the year."
The Cougars (5-5) will play yet another AAA game tomorrow at Fairfax, the team that hosted the holiday tournament.
Special correspondent Dan Steinberg contributed to this report.