Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, VA) will return to the Beach Ball Classic semifinals for the first time since 2002 after the Knights 41-36 victory over Rufus King (Milwaukee, WI).
Bishop O’Connell (10-0), playing in its seventh BBC, made the semifinal round in its first two appearances back in 1999 and 2002. The Knights lost in their first trip to the semis before winning in 2002 before falling in the title game to McQuaid Jesuit (NY).
The Knights won a back and forth second half battle that saw two tied scores and eight lead changes. Trailing 34-32 with 7:29 remaining in regulation, Bishop O’Connell scored six unanswered points to open a 38-34 advantage with 1:40 to play.
Austin Malone-Mitchell cut the lead to 38-36 for Rufus King (7-1) with just 41 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws. Romelo Trimble pused the lead back to three for the Knights at 39-36 with 0:29 on the clock as he hit the first of two free throws. Jamall Gregory grabbed the offensive rebound on Trimble’s missed second free throw but then missed on a free throw of his own to give life to Rufus King.
The Generals failed to take advantage though as Malone-Mitchell turned the ball over with 13 seconds to play. Karim Moore, who stole the ball for Bishop O’Connell, again gave Rufus King a chance to tie or win the game by missing a free throw with just 12 seconds remaining. It was again a turnover that would cost the Generals as Curtis Weathers lost the ball and Gregory connected on a pair of free throws to seal the victory for Bishop O’Connell.
Junior Etou led a balanced Bishop O’Connell attack with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Trimble added 12 points for the Knights, while Leroy Butts chipped in with 10 points and seven boards. Malone-Mitchell paced Rufus King with 21 points.
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