Some observations from Tuesday night's Beach District boys showdown between Ocean Lakes and Tallwood (Ocean Lakes won 68-61, in case you haven't yet read my write-up on it):
*** Tallwood's even quicker and more athletic than I possibly gave them credit for, particularly on defense. The Lions would put on the full-court or 3/4-court pressure whenever they wanted to take momentum away from Ocean Lakes, but even when Tallwood wasn't pressing, its defenders hounded the ball, using long arms and quick moves to disrupt timing and clog up passing lanes. The result? The Dolphins turned the ball over 17 times.
*** The Lions also appear to be just fine without Darius James. The electric point guard, who now plays for Old Dominion, was the emotional leader of the team last year, and it was a question coming into the season how the Lions would react with him gone. Well, in spite of the loss Tuesday night, Tallwood seems to be just fine; Aaron Brown and Jarrett Jernigan appear to be taking up the leadership roles -- particularly Brown, who looks to be every bit as flashy and energetic on the court.
*** I couldn't help but notice that Ocean Lakes had forward Randall Dunn bringing the ball up-court on a few of the game's opening possessions. I'm not sure what that was -- Head's decision to use the taller Dunn to see over the defenders in the backcourt is a likely scenario -- but I don't think it's coincidence that the Dolphins got it together offensively once Justin Hunter and Chris Stokes took over the ball-handling duties.
*** The only reason I know Marcus Davis' ankle bothered him in the second half was because he told me after the game. With 22 points, at least eight rebounds and two critical blocks in the fourth quarter, he appeared to be the picture of health. So imagine my surprise when I see him hobbling toward the locker room, grimacing in pain and his ankle wrapped in an ice pack. He did miss six of his 10 free throws in the fourth qaurter -- and I even made mention to the clock operator at one point about how Davis needed to bend his knees more, get some elevation on the ball -- and later told me the knee was a big reason for that.
*** Davis, who drew a lot of Division I interest on the football field this past fall as Ocean Lakes' quarterback, told me he isn't even close to making a commitment. In fact, Davis told me, he might not make his decision until just before National Signing Day (Feb. 6, 2008 for those of you keeping score at home). Davis, who was a wide receiver before bing moved to quarterback this year, has received heavy interest from Penn State, Virginia Tech, Florida and North Carolina. Most schools are looking at Davis as a quarterback.
*** I wasn't able to get a hold of Dunn to guage his recruitment status -- he left while I was chatting with Davis -- but I did see him talking after the game with a couple of people from North Carolina. Remember, the Tar Heels have already snagged one stud wideout from this area in Oscar Smith's Todd Harrelson -- and now it seems they might be looking to add another.
*** Given all the attention Davis and Dunn have received from their gridiron performances, could colleges also be looking at the duo as potential basketball stars? Not according to Head. But it's not because they can't -- Davis and Dunn combined for 28.6 points a game last season. Head attributed it more to colleges being aware that Davis and Dunn want to play football in college, not basketball. "The word's out," Head told me. "These schools know what Marcus and Randall want, so they're not even asking."
Stick tight, guys ... more juiciness to follow in the coming days and weeks ...