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Beach Ball Classic notebook: Hoops a family affair for Wootens

MYRTLE BEACH

A typical coach's wife sits in the stands cheering on her husband's team - the kids usually tag along or go to the sitter. At Bishop O'Connell (Va.), the Knights do things a little differently. Coach Joe Wootten, his wife Terri and their 6-month-old son Jackson all sit on the Knights' bench on game day.

"[Terri] is the full-time athletic trainer," Wootten said. "Our other two kids [daughters Alexa and Reese] are back at the hotel, but since Jackson is nursing he needs to be with Terri at all times.

Wootten, the son of coaching legend Morgan Wootten - the nation's all time winningest high school basketball coach, is noted for creating a family environment.

"I have always wanted to coach the type of players and team that want to be around my family - and vice versa - so I am real comfortable with it being a family atmosphere," Wootten said.

Gaels go 12 deep

Alexander Hamilton (Wis.) coach Tom Diener admitted earlier in the week that he played only six players until late into the second half when they were handily defeating Socastee because "at some point the talent level drops off and you can only be competitive with so many guys."

Bishop Gorman (Nev.) doesn't have that problem. The Gaels put 10 players in the scoring column in a 40-point victory over Nichols School (N.Y.) on Tuesday. In two games Gorman has outscored its opponents 163-106 and has had five different players score at least 15 points.

"When one of our players has to miss a game it's almost a sigh of relief," Gaels' coach Grant Rice sarcastically referring to the struggles of finding playing time for those who have earned it. "Don't get me wrong. I would love to have Shabazz [Muhammad, who suffered a back injury last week] and Xavier [Grimble, who is playing in the Under Armour All-American Football Game] playing with us this week, but we have so many other guys that can step right in and fill their places.''

Next week Gorman senior forward Alex Turner (6-3) will be missing games when he takes his official visit to Stanford. The future Cardinal player was the defensive MVP on the Gaels' football team and has committed to play linebacker for coach Jim Harbaugh's squad.

"Alex asked me if it was OK if he missed a game," Grant said. "I more than encouraged him [to go] because we are almost too deep. It's not that we will miss any of our kids but we will be fine without them.

"We just want what is best for the kids and luckily we don't have to force any situation. "We have a great working relationship the other coaches at our school and the players are not afraid to make commitments for one sport during another sport's season.

Weather disappoints

With overnight lows reaching the 20s, many teams that traveled south to play in the tourney are feeling right at home.

"I thought the weather was going to be the best part about coming down here," said Mount St. Joseph (Va.) guard Eric Atkins. "So far it has been the way we are being treated, the food here is great and everyone is taking good care of us."

Showing up to the gym in stocking caps and sweats, not many players have made the short trip down to the beach from the Crown Reef Oceanfront Resort where the teams are staying.

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