Best Hollywood Performance: Tandem Friends round-baller Matt Meriwether has a storybook night in the December 11 contest against Trinity High, scoring 36 points– half of them in the pressure-cooking fourth quarter– and concluding his performance with a game-winning three pointer with just nine seconds remaining. " [Trinity] couldn't stop him," coach Gordon Fields tells the Daily Progress about the 61-62 thriller. "Matt stepped out and hit his jumpers and drove to the basket. He was our money player."
Short-sided Skins: Despite a valiant upset effort, the Redskins (4-9) fall short in their December 12 showdown against the division power Philadelphia Eagles (12-1). The faithful home FedEx Field fans were prepared to erupt as Washington drove toward a potential game winning touchdown, but quarterback Patrick Ramsey's interception with 1:46 remaining sealed the heartbreaking 17-14 defeat. "They got out of here with this one, they snuck out of here with this one," Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot tells the AP. "[Eagles quarterback Donovan] McNabb told me at the end of the game: They crept out of here with this one."
Most Business-like Basketball: Both the UVA men's and women's basketball teams earn victories as the season enters its quieter phase before heating up with conference play after the winter break. The men (7-1), coming off their first heartbreaking loss and battling the fatigue of their fifth game in 11 days, earn a hard-fought 79-67 victory over a pesky Furman squad (4-4) at U-Hall December 8. The women meanwhile knock off in-state rival Old Dominion 72-64 December 10 to up their overall record to 6-3 on the season.
Strongest Patriot Power: It hasn't always been pretty, but the Albemarle Patriots' boys basketball squad surprises Central Virginia with a perfect 4-0 start in the first two weeks of the season. AHS enjoys two key home victories against local rivals Western Albemarle and Charlottesville. In front of capacity crowds, AHS drills eight three-pointers to pull away from WAHS 47-34, December 7, and then holds off a furious second-half CHS charge to knock off the Black Knights 46-42 on December 10. "We rely on the perimeter, speed, quickness, and ball handling," Pats' coach Greg Maynard tells the Progress.
Worst Heat Stroke: The Washington Wizards (12-7) fly high as they travel to Miami on the wings of a two-game winning streak, and leave Florida only a game behind the Heat for top spot in the NBA's Southeast division. The red-hot Heat (16-7) torch Washington, however, with a 106-83 drubbing en route to their fifth consecutive victory on December 13. Miami star center Shaquille O'Neal dominates the game from the opening tip-off as he overpowers the Wiz defense for a whopping 40 points. "There's no one game plan that works against Shaq," the Wizards' Kwame Brown tells the AP following Washington's seventh consecutive Miami loss. "Anybody who tells you that is crazy."
The Week Ahead
ALBEMARLE VS. CHARLOTTESVILLE
Friday, December 18 @ 7:30pm
The Black Knights seek revenge after their dramatic comeback fell just short at AHS December 10. Expect a packed and rowdy high school gym for another Friday night classic. Tickets: $5.
UVA WOMEN VS. ST. FRANCIS (PA)
Tuesday, December 21 @ 7pm
UVA MEN VS. LOYOLA MARYMONT
Thursday, December 23 @ 7:30pm
It's the holiday season, when UVA basketball enjoys a period of fairly light competition until January. Coaches Debbie Ryan and Pete Gillen both know, however, the dangers of "Christmas cupcakes" and will continue to pull out all the stops to prepare their teams. Various men's tickets are still available. Women's tickets: $6 Adult, $4 Youth.