Leesburg, Va. — Since Potomac Falls High School opened its door in 1997, the Panthers boys basketball program has made a name for itself. Led by head coach Jeff Hawes, the Panthers have won numerous district and several region titles. In 2010 and 2011, Potomac Falls won the VHSL AA, Division 4 State championship games. And in that second state championship season, the Panthers won 30 wins. But there’s one thing the Potomac Falls boys basketball team has never done: finished the regular season undefeated.
“I told them before the game started that no matter what happens down the road, 22-0, no one will ever take that away,” Hawes said.
When Hawes made that statement, however, the Tuscarora Huskies still stood between Potomac Falls and its perfect regular season.
But as the clock hit 0:00, the score read 75-45 as the Panthers defeated the Huskies in the final game of both teams regular seasons on February 8 in Leesburg.
“For our school, we pride ourselves on basketball,” Potomac Falls junior center Jalen Coker said. “I’m just so glad to be a part of this team, and I’m glad we were able to really do something special.”
In their 22nd win of the season, Coker himself was able to do something special for the Panthers.
“A guy subbed in for him on Wednesday night [against Millbrook]and made the difference. And he felt that,” Hawes said. “I told my guys at my house, ‘You watch Coker tonight. He’s going to be on fire.’”
In the win over Tuscarora, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound center chipped in a game-high 16 points and added 12 rebounds to lead Potomac Falls on both ends of the floor.
“I pride myself on my rebounding and getting my teammates the ball. And when I can score, I’ll score,” Coker said. “I just want to be the best team player I can be.”
Boys Basketball: Potomac Falls finishes the regular season 22-0. Jalen Coker leads the way with 16 points, 12 rebounds. All 12 Panthers score. @PFalls_Bball 75, @Husky_Hoopz 45 FINAL #LoCoHoops @LoCoSports
— Owen Gotimer (@BigO_Gotimer) February 9, 2019
Not only did Coker score and rebound, he also defended well and distributed the ball around the floor, as all twelve Panthers added to the scoring line.
“It kind of describes who we are,” Potomac Falls junior forward Landon Hawes said. “We have guys one through twelve ready to roll.”
Entering the game as the Panthers’ leading scorer, Tuscarora held Hawes to less than 10 points for just the third time all season.
“It helps when there are games like this late in the season when we’re getting worn out,” Landon Hawes said. “We can keep going down our bench, because we’re very deep.”
That depth will certainly be a factor for the Panthers as they move into the district tournament. No. 1 Potomac Falls (14-0, 22-0) will host No. 8 John Champe (3-11, 8-13) in a Potomac District quarterfinal on February 11. In their first meeting of the season, the Panthers cruised past the Knights, 85-52. However, in their match up on January 18, John Champe hung around, as Potomac Falls was able to escape, 74-71.
“We know Champe’s going to be tough,” Coach Hawes said. “They’re talented, and they have three of the better players in the league.”
The target on their backs is nothing new for the Panthers, but the postseason will bring a whole new challenge.
“Just growing up around my dad, everything I’ve seen, this is everything I’ve ever dreamed of,” Landon Hawes said. “But it’s a brand new season now. We’re 0-0. We have to prepare for every team, and we have to be ready to go every night.”
Potomac Falls Stats
|Potomac Falls||Points||Rebounds||Assists||Steals||Blocks||Free Throws|
|Brayden Van Leliveld||13||10||1||2||1||2-for-2|