Osbourn Park trailed national powerhouse Montrose Christian by six points midway through the third quarter last year. The Yellow Jackets missed a three-pointer, then lost 6-foot-7 Chris Fleming, a George Mason recruit, to fouls.
What had been a close game turned ugly in a hurry -- 68-48 was the final score -- but Osbourn Park Coach Bobby Lake, just a few weeks into his first year with the team, was pleased at how it measured up.
"I was happy we only lost by 20, but the score was not indicative of the game," Lake said.
Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., Lake will take out the ruler once again to measure his team's progress against the very best. Montrose Christian, ranked No. 1 in USA Today's Super 25 national prep poll, again visits Manassas. Montrose's legendary coach, Stu Vetter, is a Manassas native.
Lake's Yellow Jackets got off to a rough start Friday night, a 71-46 loss at D.C. private school St. John's. And things won't get easier against Montrose, but that hasn't tempered the excitement.
"There are [students] talking in the hallways, people I know in the community that say they won't miss it," Lake said. "There are no games on a Monday night and we want this to be the big one."
Last season, Lake led the Yellow Jackets to a 15-10 record and the boys' first regional appearance in 22 years. Lake credits much of his coaching knowledge to Vetter, who coached Lake at Flint Hill in 1975. Lake in turn coached Vetter's brother, John, at Osbourn in 1982. Stu Vetter has won 20 or more games at four different prep schools for 23 consecutive seasons. He has won three USA Today national titles and twice has been chosen as the national coach of the year.
"When I got the job [at Osbourn Park], John and I talked a little and said, 'Yeah let's bring them in,' " Lake said. "We wanted to bring good players in to the school so the kids can see what it's about and what we inspire to have at this program."
Lake still taps Vetter's wisdom, often talking to him on the phone and watching some of his practices during the offseason. One difference he sees in Vetter's programs as opposed to many others is fundamentals -- a discipline he stresses with his own team.
"A lot has to do with keeping things simple," Lake said. "Don't try to do anything you're not capable of doing with your players. [Vetter] has better players so they might have some more dunks or backdoor plays. We might set some picks but, we don't have anyone 6-foot-9 that can go up like that. It's a different game, but if you can master the fundamentals then you will be more successful."
Montrose Christian is led by 6-10 Kevin Durant, a Texas recruit who can handle the ball and is a long-range threat. Durant, a transfer from Oak Hill Academy, is ranked as the second best player in the nation by scout.com.
Durant's former school, Oak Hill, is ranked No. 2 by USA Today, and will also make an appearance in Prince William County this month. On Dec. 17, Potomac will host Maryland private school McDonogh at 6:30 p.m., followed by Oak Hill against Herndon, in the DC Dunkfest.
The games feature signees for Maryland (Potomac's Eric Hayes and Oak Hill's Landon Milbourne), North Carolina (Oak Hill's Tywon Lawson), Georgetown (McDonogh's DaJuan Summers) and Oklahoma (Herndon's Scottie Reynolds), among other Division I recruits.