Looking up at the scoreboard as he headed to the locker room at halftime, Paul VI Catholic Coach Levi Franklin could only shake his head. The Panthers, who finished the regular season with six consecutive losses, had made 4 of 24 shots, committed seven turnovers and scored a meager 10 points.
"Ten points? I think that's a school record," Franklin said. "I don't want that record."
The only positive Franklin could find was that there was another half to play. In the second half, the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight found a new moniker -- the Rally Kids. Donald Johnson drove for a game-tying basket in the final minute of regulation and Ronald Burks scored six of his 15 points in overtime as the Panthers rallied for a 59-48 victory over 19th-ranked Bishop McNamara in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal game yesterday at Gallaudet.
Paul VI (17-11) advanced to today's semifinals against second-ranked DeMatha (23-5), which got 18 points from All-Met guard Austin Freeman in a 62-52 win over Good Counsel.
The other boys' semifinal tomorrow matches No. 4 St. John's and No. 9 Gonzaga. The Cadets (23-6) got 28 points from George Mason-bound Vlad Moldoveanu in a 49-40 win over O'Connell. Max Kenyi scored 15 points to lead the Eagles (21-8).
While DeMatha used a big second quarter to take control en route to its 11th victory in 12 games, Paul VI took a little longer to get going. McNamara (18-11) led 19-10 at halftime and by as many as 13 points in the third quarter as center Talib Zanna played his strongest game of the season. Zanna, a 6-foot-9 sophomore who missed 17 games this winter because of a broken right foot, finished with career-highs of 17 points and 15 rebounds.
A three-point play by Luc Atangana and consecutive baskets by Burks spurred an 12-2 run midway through the third quarter as the Panthers pulled within 32-31. A three-point play by Johnson (16 points) tied it at 38-38 midway through the fourth quarter. Neither team led by more than two points the rest of regulation, when Paul VI finally pulled away.
Playing Big: Bishop McNamara sophomore center Talib Zanna had a breakout performance of 17 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out late in regulation. Zanna entered averaging 5.4 points and previously had not scored in double figures.
Up Next: WCAC semifinals tonight at American University, Paul VI Catholic vs. No. 2 DeMatha, 5 p.m.; No. 4 St. John's vs. No. 9 Gonzaga, 7