Jackets' Boys, Girls
Ahead at the Half
With the Cedar Run District schedule halfway completed, the Osbourn Park boys' and girls' basketball teams sit atop the standings with 3-0 records, quite a lofty spot for squads that combined to go 1-11 in district play last season.
The girls (4-7, 3-0), who entered the district schedule on a five-game losing streak, completed their first-half Cedar Run sweep with a 48-36 home win Friday over Osbourn. Junior guard Erin Myers, working her way back from an ankle injury suffered in a holiday tournament, scored a team-high 16 points off the bench.
In the boys' 61-60 win, the Yellow Jackets (8-4, 3-0) used a 13-0 run in the third quarter to take a 14-point lead and then narrowly staved off an Osbourn rally. Osbourn Park's three leading scorers -- juniors James Broderick (17 points) and Jon Pierce (14) and senior Adam Hinton-Moore (13) -- combined for 44 of the team's points.
Myers, a starter before the injury, would prefer to crack the lineup again. But Coach Larry Nemerow said Myers's shooting percentage as a reserve has been about double what it was as a starter.
"A lot of times the sixth man is one of the best players on the team, if not the best player," Nemerow said. "She definitely gives us a spark both offensively and defensively. She can come in for a big player or a small player and change the look of what we're doing. Not everybody can do that. A lot of people come off the bench and have to make a mistake before they're in the scheme of things. She comes off the bench and hits the ground running."
"I guess it's good coming off the bench because you get to see everything before you go into the game," said Myers, who upon entering Friday promptly hit a short jumper from the right baseline, fed senior Kat Rippe (11 points) in the post and took a half-court steal in for a layup, all in a span of just more than a minute. "I just feel like I should be out there, but I'm not. If we start off bad, I can't do anything to help them."
Junior Sarah Thompson added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Osbourn senior Stephanie Gaynord led the Eagles with a season-high 21 points -- on 8 of 13 shooting -- in her team's eighth consecutive loss.
The Yellow Jackets' other district victories were far more dramatic. They nipped Potomac, 36-35, on Tuesday when, in the final seconds, Rippe came up with a steal and assisted junior Reba Stewart on the winning basket. Osbourn Park had trailed by six entering the fourth quarter. And the team's first district win was in overtime against Stonewall.
Bad Break The Osbourn-Osbourn Park boys game Friday was halted for several minutes early in the fourth quarter because of a disturbance near the top of the bleachers that resulted in the removal of a few spectators by police officers from the City of Manassas and Prince William County.
The referees, coaches and school administrators huddled away from the court to discuss how they should proceed with the game -- the incident had nothing to do with the action on the court -- and when the group returned to the floor, Osbourn Park Coach Dan Lawray and Osbourn Coach Mike Dufrene each addressed the fans over the public address system, asking for their cooperation in maintaining order.
Lawray, a security officer at Benton Middle School, announced that if there were another incident, the gym would be cleared and the game -- which was heating up nicely at that point with Osbourn on a 10-0 run that cut the Yellow Jackets' lead to 54-50 -- would continue in front of empty bleachers.
"My suggestion is you all enjoy what's going on in here, because it's cold outside," Lawray said, spurring laughs and applause. " . . . Please do the right thing. If there are any more hoodlums in this gym, let me know who they are and I'll come and get 'em."
The game continued without further incident, but the stoppage could not have come at a worse time for the Eagles, whose rally was halted not by the Yellow Jackets but by the perpetrators in the stands.
"That's a big momentum breaker," said Dufrene, whose team had beaten Osbourn Park in seven of the previous eight meetings. "It was a great game to watch, and it's a shame that a couple individuals ruined that for some people. But what can you do. All you can do is focus between the lines and play the game. I thought after that happened that both the home and away crowd did a good job of handling themselves with a lot of school spirit."
Osbourn, on a six-game losing streak, inched to within two with 17 seconds left on two free throws by junior Robert Murray (13 points). Osbourn Park went back up by four with two foul shots, and Eagles junior Kevin Arvai hit a three-pointer at the buzzer -- while hoping to also draw a foul -- for the final margin.
Senior Brandon Oglesby led Osbourn with 20 points. Junior Robbi Hill added a season-high 11, and junior Kalair Montgomery-Haynes had 12 rebounds.
Capital 'D' Forest Park junior Amanda Bates was not supposed to guard Hylton star Jasmine Byrd on Friday. But when Bates and sophomore teammate Courtney Portell switched assignments on a screen early in the game, they never switched back.
There was no need to. With Bates as the primary stopper in a 54-47 win, the 13th-ranked Bruins (14-0) limited North Carolina-Greensboro signee Byrd to four points, her lowest total since she scored four in the 2001-02 season opener.
Byrd had hit double figures for 19 consecutive games and had totaled 41 points in two games against Forest Park last season.
"I was actually pretty happy" with the switch, Bates said. "Jasmine is such an incredible player, and to be able to compete with somebody like her is fun. I just followed her stomach and gave her her space, but as soon as she penetrated, I tried to beat her to the spot.
"She's the heart of that team, and if you stop the heart of the team, it's hard for them to develop much else."
Bates and Portell each scored 12 points. For Hylton (8-3), senior forward Tanisha Brown (17) and junior guard Tiffany Saunders (14) each notched season scoring highs.
On a Roll With a host of talent returning off a 16-2 team that won the Old Dominion Association of Christian Schools championship, Heritage Christian boys' coach Mike Perham had his unselfishness speech all ready, just in case he needed it this season.
So far, during an 9-0 start, he has not.
"I was a little worried [because] there's one basketball and five players," Perham said. "But they've filled their roles and taken their positions. I wanted to see if they'd see it on their own and they seemed to embrace that philosophy. You can only make them do so much. They have to want to do it, and it seems they want to. You don't get that every time."
The Patriots are led by junior Matt Hastings and seniors Mike Solbach and Darell Duckett. The rematch with rival Evangel Christian, a game Heritage won, 61-41, in December, is Feb. 7.
Close, but . . . The Manassas Park boys led by 12 in the first half at Clarke County on Friday before fading 65-62 against the Eagles, who have won 10 consecutive games and are tied with Brentsville atop the Bull Run District standings with a 5-0 record.
"They're ranked No. 3 in the state, so that builds a lot of confidence with our team knowing we can play with anyone around," said Manassas Park Coach Bob Schaul, whose Cougars (5-9, 2-4) have dropped five straight. "But we lost. Potential is something, but performance is everything."
Unbeaten Bull Run teams Brentsville and Clarke County will make up their Jan. 3 postponement either Jan. 25 or Feb. 3 at Brentsville. The teams' other regularly scheduled game is Jan. 28 at Clarke.
-- Preston Williams