Many of the Washington area's top-ranked boys basketball teams traveled to holiday tournaments over the winter break in search of tough competition. The Post's previously unbeaten top five teams returned with blemishes on their records.
No. 1 Oxon Hill (7-1) suffered its first loss, to Christ the King of New York, 77-74, in a semifinal in the Stop-DWI Classic in Binghamton, N.Y. Oxon Hill rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to pull within two on a dunk by All-Met center Michael Sweetney. But guard Phil Goss's three-point attempt fell short as time expired.
"We wanted to play in the toughest tournament possible so that we could see where we are as a team at this point in the season," Clippers Coach Billy Lanier said. "I have to say that I'm pleased. But there are some areas where we can improve."
Second-ranked DeMatha (11-1) lost to nationally ranked Brother Rice (N.Y.), 75-65, Thursday in the final of the Glaxo Wellcome Holiday Tournament in Raleigh, N.C. But the tournament was hardly forgettable for the Stags. They played Brother Rice at Reynolds Coliseum, home of North Carolina State's basketball teams from 1949 until 1999. They also practiced at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium and North Carolina's Dean E. Smith Center and met Blue Devils Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Tar Heels Coach Bill Guthridge and Wolfpack Coach Herb Sendek.
North Carolina freshman guard Joseph Forte, a DeMatha graduate and The Post's 1999 All-Met player of the year, visited the team following the loss to Brother Rice.
"The trip was very, very successful," DeMatha Coach Morgan Wootten said. "The kids had a great time."
No. 3 Spingarn (7-1) blew an 18-point halftime lead against St. Joseph's of Ohio and lost, 78-72, in a semifinal game in the Celriver Classic (S.C.). The Northeast Washington school went 2-1 and was led by senior guard Deon Saunders, who averaged 20 points per game.
"They didn't beat us, we beat ourselves," Green Wave Coach Doc Robinson said. "We started to get cute, making behind-the-back passes and stuff like that. Believe me, it should have been a 30-point victory."
No. 5 Montrose Christian (7-2) and No. 8 South Lakes (7-2) also suffered tournament defeats. Montrose Christian lost to St. John Neumann (Pa.), 54-50, in overtime in the Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament in Delaware. South Lakes went 1-2 in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Holiday Tournament.
Carroll Wins Title by Default
No. 15 Carroll (9-2) returned from its trip to Georgia claiming the Peach State Classic championship, although it did not play in the tournament final.
Carroll's championship opponent, Clayton County, had to forfeit because of a Georgia state rule that prohibits its teams from playing more than six quarters in a single day. Carroll and Clayton County played in semifinals earlier that day.
"The tournament director had scheduled both teams to play twice on the 30th," said Carroll Coach Carroll Holmes, whose team went 4-0 in the tournament. "They came to us that afternoon and told us about the problem. We were informed later on that they weren't allowed to play us because of the rule."
According to Holmes, tournament officials had asked him to delay his team's return to Washington by 24 hours so the title game could be played the following morning. But the team's flight reservations could not be changed, Holmes said.
Chantilly Stays Unbeaten
Chantilly, which went 19-7 last season, improved to 9-0 after winning its holiday tournament, which included a 65-45 victory over previously unbeaten Henrico of Richmond.
Chantilly has two of the Washington area's top scorers in senior guard Mike Scott, who had 20 points in the victory, and senior center Brian White (17 points per game). But it is the Chargers' suffocating defense that has bailed them out in tight games.
"Defense is our strength," said Coach Jim Smith, whose team is yielding 44 points per game.
Johnson No. 1 in Three-Pointers
Annapolis senior Marcus Johnson does not mind shooting from long range. The 6-foot-5 senior forward became the No. 4 Panthers' all-time leader in three-pointers when he made two to raise his career total to 133 in a 84-60 victory over Wilde Lake in the final of the Fred Stauffer Cap City Classic.