Bishop OConnell wins Holiday Invitational

In a hard fought, physical, down-to-the-wire encounter between two reigning Virginia high school state champions, Coach Joe Wootten's Bishop O'Connell team, led by do-everything senior, Marcus Ginyard, squeezed by Newport News, Va., Woodside High School, 57-56, to win the championship of the Holiday Invitational Tournament last night in Raleigh, N.C.
Tournament MVP North Carolina signee, 6-foot-6 point/forward Marcus Ginyard, scored 27 points on 13-18 shooting, grabbed 9 rebounds, and dished off 5 assists to lead the Bishop O'Connell Knights of Arlington, Va., to the championship of the 33rd annual GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational Tournament at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of N.C. State University.
After holding a 31-23 halftime advantage, the hard-pressing Woodside team, that had six of its top eight players returning from last season's Virginia Division III state champions, trimmed the margin to 44-41 at the end of the third period.
Behind the relentless efforts of William & Mary recruit, 6-foot-2 combo guard Calvin Baker, Woodside kept up the heat, and after a sensational driving layup by Baker, trailed by only one, 55-54 with 1:20 remaining. Wooside's smothering pressure forced another Bishop O'Connell turnover (their 23rd in the game), and their talented junior guard, 6-foot-3 Stefan Welsh, put his team ahead 56-55 with :40 seconds on the clock.
However, Bishop O'Connell's productive unsigned senior, 6-foot-7, 230-pound power forward David Neal scored what proved to be the winning basket with 26 seconds remaining, giving the Knights a 57-56 lead. Neal then forced Woodside star Calvin Baker to make an errant pass that, ironically, was intercepted by O'Connell senior, 6-foot-2 senior guard Bryant Majors, on the final play of the game allowing Coach Wootten's Bishop O'Connell team to take home the championship trophy.
The irony of Majors' steal was that he was the victim of a vicious flagrant foul by Stefan Welsh earlier in the contest. Majors appeared to be punched, and, after writhing on the floor in intense pain had to leave the game. It was gratifying that he was able to return, and make a play that saved the game for his Bishop O'Connell team.
Again, Marcus Ginyard led Bishop O'Connell (9-0) with 27 points, and David Neal added 17 points, and 14 rebounds. Calvin Baker was the scoring leader for Woodside High (8-1) with 18 points; Stefan Welsh had 15 points; and Sam Atupem had 7 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals.
In the Holiday Invitational Third Place Game Huntersville, N.C., North Mecklenburg (11-1) defeated Bunn, N.C. High School (6-3), 63-47. Talented junior, 6-foot-8 power/wing forward Jamie Skeen had 18 points and 13 rebounds; hot-shooting 6-foot-2 senior one/two guard Michael Laney had 15 points; and hardworking 6-foot-6, 200-pound power forward Ben Skywall had 14 points and 9 rebounds for Coach Duane Lewis' North Mecklenburg team.
Prolific scoring 5-foot-11, 175-pound two guard Freddie Little topped Bunn High School with 27 points (5-14 3-point shots).
Washington, D.C., Gonzaga Collegiate High School (8-3) won the championship of the four-team U.S. Challenge Tournament, defeating Arden, N.C., Christ School (14-1), 86-66. Still available 6-foot-6 senior power/wing forward Paul Johnson was the "main man" for Coach Steve Turner's Gonzaga team with 25 points (11-15 FG). Lightning-quick 5-foot-8 junior point guard Carlos Howard added 15 points for Gonzaga, hitting 5-5 three-point shots; and skilled 6-foot-6 senior wing forward Brian Slanika contributed 10 points, 8 assists, and 3 steals.
The standouts for Coach David Gaines' Christ School team were twin brothers, 6-foot-4 senior wings, Chavis Holmes, and Travis Holmes. Chavis had 21 points, and Travis scored 14 points for Christ School.
In the Holiday Invitational Fifth Place Game Apex, N.C., High School (11-1) held off Denham Springs, La., High (16-5), 66-60. Apex High was led by their "dynamic duo," 6-foot-5 senior wing forward James Dillard with 28 points, 8 rebounds; and 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward Charles Baker with 19 points, 6 assists.
L.S.U. signee, 6-foot-7 power/wing forward Tasmin Mitchell, had another outstanding performance with 29 points (4-7 3-point shots), 12 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 5 assists for Denham Springs High.
On Tuesday night in Denham Springs High's 78-62 victory over Raleigh, N.C., Wakefield High, Mitchell exploded for 52 points, hitting 17-23 FG, including 4-5 3-point shots, 14-16 free throws, and 15 rebounds. In that performance Tasmin Mitchell came with two points of tying the all-time tournament record of 54 points set in 1997 by former Florida star, and current Memphis Grizzlies player, Mike Miller. I was at that game eight years ago when Miller, playing for Mitchell (remarkable coincidence), S.D., set the mark. Actually, Tasmin Mitchell had several chances to tie or break the record. After playing the entire game I am certain that fatigue was a factor since in the final minute Tasmin missed a normally easy power move to the hoop, plus two free throws attempts after making 14 straight.
Regardless, Tasmin Mitchell's performance in this tournament was sensational. In three games he scored 101 points (just 14 less than North Carolina star Donald Williams' record of 115 points set in 1990; and 45 rebounds. In my opinion Mitchell proved that he deserves to be ranked among the nation's top four seniors.
In the U.S. Challenge Third Place Game Jenkintown, Pa., Abington Friends defeated Metuchen, N.J., St. Josephs High School, 75-61. The victors were led by perimeter marksman, 6-foot-2 senior guard Aron Cohen with 21 points; 5-foot-9 sophomore point guard Douglas Davis had 13 points, 6 assists; and most promising juniors, 6-foot-9 center Jason Love, and 6-foot-8 power forward Andrew Jones, both scored 12 points.
St. Josephs High was missing their "impact player," Connecticut signee, 7-foot center Andrew Bynum, who stayed home to have an MRI on his injured knee. According to St. Josephs coach Mark Taylor, the good news is that Bynum does not have a torn ACL, and will likely play in his team's next game.
The top performer for St. Josephs in this event was talented junior, 6-foot-4 guard/forward Sean Baptiste with 21 and 24 points in two games.
Duke recruit, 6-foot-2 point guard Greg Paulus, despite playing on an undermanned team, displayed great point guard skills, leadership, and superb all-around abilities to lead his Syracuse, N.Y., Christian Brothers Academy to a 61-48 win over defending North Carolina 4A state champion Raleigh Wakefield High in the Seventh Place Game.
In that contest Paulus had 23 points, 5 assists; in two earlier games (which Christian Brothers lost), he had 26 points, 11 assists; and 27 points, 8 assists. In my opinion, Greg Paulus is the ideal point guard for Coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, and is the most complete true point guard in the nation.
2004 Holiday Invitational All-Tournament Honorees:
Most Valuable Player - Marcus Ginyard, Bishop O'Connell, Va.
Most Outstanding Player - Tasmin Mitchell, Denham Springs, La.
Greg Paulus, Christian Brothers Academy, N.Y.
Jamie Skeen, North Mecklenburg, N.C.
Freddie Little, Bunn, N.C.
James Dillard, Apex, N.C.
Charles Baker, Apex, N.C.
Sam Carlisle, RaleighWakefield, N.C.
Ben Skywall, North Mecklenburg, N.C.
David Neal, Bishop O'Connell, Va.
Calvin Baker, Newport News Woodside, Va.
Sam Atupem, Newport News Woodside, Va.
U.S. Challenge All-Tournament Honorees:
Most Valuable Player - Paul Johnson, Washington, D.C., Gonzaga
Most Outstanding Players (tie) - Chavis Holmes, Christ School, N.C. Travis Holmes, Christ School, N.C.
Sean Baptiste, St. Josephs, N.J.
Kenyon Churchwell, Gonzaga, D.C.
Jason Love, Abington Friends, Pa.
Andrew Jones, Abington Friends, Pa.
Aron Cohen, Abington Friends, Pa.