Things came a tad too easily for Bishop O’Connell (Va.) in its Beach Ball Classic opener on Tuesday.
A daunting task to most, Dillard (Fla.) wanted its own crack at one of Virginia’s finest ball clubs, and let the chips fall as they may.
Frenetic defensively at times — but suffocating throughout — the Panthers used a fast start to overwhelm Bishop O’Connell, cruising into Friday’s semifinal round with a 53-41 victory.
In its win over Westlake, the Knights didn’t allow their opponent to get off the mat, holding it to 26 percent shooting for the game. Looking on as Bishop O’Connell dismantled a top-tier squad, Dillard’s goal for Wednesday night was a simple one — do not let it happen to them.
“We played O’Connell before and know they ae tremendous team. We did not want to let them jump out and get an edge on us,” said Dillard basketball coach Darryl Burrows. “We wanted to be the first to apply some pressure, and be the first to move the stick a little bit.”
Task No. 1 in making that possible was neutralizing the Knights big man Nate Watson, who scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds the night before. The Panthers never allowed him to get comfortable in this one, though, limiting him to 8 points in the game.
“(Dillard) certainly did that, added to the fact that we didn’t do a good job of playing together,” said Bishop O’Connell basketball coach Joe Wootten. “We kind of became individuals, as opposed to (Tuesday night) when we played great team offense.
Without their key cog able to shoulder his share of the load, the Knights finished the game shooting just above 32 percent from the field.
On the other hand, the Panthers never trailed in the game, leading at one point in the first half by 20 points. The chief catalyst for Dillard was wingman Jordan Wright, who scored a game-high 22 points in a winning effort.
“We just wanted to come out harder and more physical than them,” Wright said. “We caught the second half (of Bishop O’Connell’s game) and we saw that we would have to get (Watson) out of his game. … Our main goal was to stop their shooters and play our hardest. Everything else kind fell from that.”
In addition to Wright, Raiquan Gray reached double figures, scoring 11. Matt Lewis led the way for Bishop O’Connell with 13.
With the victory, Dillard moves into the Beach Ball Classic semifinal round, taking on either Imhotep Charter (Pa.) or Bishop Gorman (Nev.). Despite how impressive his team was en route to victory, Burrows knows the Panthers must take their game up a notch to continue in their quest for a tourney title.
“Each game it is going to get tougher and tougher,” he said. “Every team here is tough.We have to be prepared to play our best on Friday night.
BOC (41): Nate Watson 8, Matt Lewis 13, Xavier Johnson 4, D’Marco Baucum 2, Jay Heath 4, Dimingus Stevens 9, Jake Berry 1.
DIL (53): Jordan Wright 22, Bryce Olver 2, Seth Coddington 2, Raiquan Gray 11, Stanley Garner 9, Robert Johnson 2, Michael Johnson 5.
Halftime: DIL 31-17. 3-pointers: BOC 4 (Lewis, Stevens 3), DIL 6 (Wright 2, Gray, Garner 2, Johnson). Team fouls: BOC 13, DIL 19. Technical fouls: Nate Watson (BOC).
Records: BOC 7-4, DIL 11-3.