Despite a 70-43 loss to Bishop O’Connell (Va.) in the opening round of the Beach Ball Classic on Wednesday, St. James coach Monty Carr is optimistic about his team’s first ever appearance in the prestigious tournament.
“Any time you come away with a loss, you’re not happy with it,” Carr said. “But the way the guys performed and the adjustments we made at halftime, the guys responded positive to them. On the sidelines, everyone was positive with each other. All in all, it was a positive outing for our first time in the Beach Ball Classic.”
The Knights outrebounded St. James 40-28, and Bishop O’Connell outscored the Sharks 28-11 in points off turnovers.
“Bishop O’Connell is a well disciplined, athletic team,” Carr said. “They did their stuff better than our stuff and that ends up making a difference.
“The number one thing was speed of play. Bishop O’Connell physically and offensively play on a different speed than we play at and it made a difference”
The Sharks shot poorly in the first half (7-for-23), entering halftime facing a 31-17 deficit. Bishop O’Connell led by as many as 16 and outscored St. James 19-5 in points off turnovers in the frame.
“I thought they competed hard,” Knights coach Joe Wootten said. “They were tough and never quit. They were well-coached and it made it real hard. ... We were clearly bigger and even though they had some size, we did a good job going inside.
“We went inside 40 times so I thought we did a good job at that. I thought our execution was good, I thought our defense overall was good. Overall it was a good performance and we played hard.”
St. James senior Caleb Duggan, who finished with seven points and four assists, exited the game with 8:22 remaining after falling hard to the ground and bloodying his chin. Duggan expects to play in the remainder of the tournament.
Jamall Gregory had a game-high 17 points to go along with six rebounds, five steals and four assists for the Knights.
“I think I did okay,” Gregory said. “I just played off the energy my teammates fed me. I had a lot of confidence going into the game and now I have some going into the next one ... I’m like the energy guy on the team. That’s what I do best and that's what I did tonight [so] we got the win.”
Said Wootten: “Gregory is a guy that’s played very well in terms of feeding the post. He’s been getting other guys the ball and I’m glad to see him perform well tonight.”
Romelo Trimble contributed with 15 points, and Congo native Junior Etou and Leroy Butts finished with nine points each for Bishop O’Connell. The Knights will play Rufus King (Wisc.) at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.
“We got more to offer,” Gregory said. “Everything is going to get better and I look forward to competing for a championship.”
St. James will play East Rutherford (N.C.) at noon on Thursday.
“Now my guys have played a next level team and if we want to be competitive in the next level we will have to compete,” Carr said.
Bishop O’Connell 31-17.3-point goals:
Bishop O’Connell 5 (Trimble 3, Gregory, Monroe); St. James 4 (McCallum, Duggan, Hurston 2).Team fouls:
Bishop O’Connell 10, St. James 18.Fouled out: