O'Connell 56, Good Counsel 51

After playing nine games in 14 days in two holiday tournaments, top-ranked O'Connell returned home a bit road-weary. But the Knights managed to stave off a fourth-quarter rally by Good Counsel for 56-51 victory in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference game in Arlington.

O'Connell junior guard Erik Lomax sank one of two free throws with 13 seconds left to give the Knights a 54-51 lead. O'Connell (11-1, 4-0) then forced senior guard Kevin App to launch an awkward three-pointer. Lomax made two free throws with eight-tenths of a second left for the final margin.

"We were really tired," said junior guard Freddie Stanback, who finished with a game-high 16 points. "We took a couple of days off, but it took a little time for us to get it going. But we like challenges like this."

O'Connell looked as if it would cruise to an easy win after a 25-9 run that started in the third quarter and continued during the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, giving the Knights a 48-30 lead. During that span, Stanback scored 14 points and the Knights played an effective transition game.

"We gave away too many transition baskets in the third quarter," Good Counsel Coach Tim McKenna said. "That section of the quarter just killed us. When you're playing a team as great as O'Connell, you can't give up that many easy baskets."

The Falcons (8-7, 0-2) managed to cut the deficit to 53-51 following an 11-2 run in the fourth quarter. But the Knights played solid defense down the stretch to preserve the victory.

O'Connell endured a holiday schedule in which the Knights captured the Les Schwab Invitational title in Portland, Ore., on Dec. 23. The team played five games in six days en route to the championship.

Upon its return, O'Connell took three days off before flying to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the Beach Ball Classic. There, the Knights advanced to the final before losing, 65-57, to McQuaid of Rochester, N.Y., on Monday.

"We had a long break with game after game after game," said sophomore forward Dave Neal, who scored 12 points, had three rebounds and shut down the Falcons' Omari Isreal. "We went from the West Coast to the East Coast. But we've become better, too, for that experience."