Boys Basketball: Briar Woods Forward Holden Phillips Lifts Falcons Past Rock Ridge

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Ashburn, Va. — Rivalry games are always exciting. Rivalry playoff games even more so. So when the Briar Woods and Rock Ridge boys basketball teams met for a Potomac District semifinal on February 13, the rivalry atmosphere lived up to expectation.

Having split the regular season series, the Falcons took advantage of a mismatch inside with junior forward Holden Phillips – who exploded for 26 points and 11 rebounds. Phillips helped Briar Woods overcome a halftime deficit to knock off Ashburn-rival Rock Ridge, 61-54, and advance to the Potomac District championship.

“Our game plan was to get the ball down to Holden because we thought we has an advantage. We didn’t do a good job of that early,” Briar Woods head coach Derek Butler said. “We made a little tweak to what we were running to make sure we could get a cleaner entry pass down there. Once we were able to feed him, he did a great job of finishing.”

Coming out of halftime, Briar Woods went straight to Phillips. The junior big man scored the Falcons’ first 11 points in the third quarter, helping Briar Woods go on an 11-4 run to close the gap to two.

“I was just making sure the guy guarding me was always on my hip, so I could keep an advantage on him,” Phillips said. “When they were throwing me the ball, I made sure I established my position and just went up strong with it.”

After closing the gap to 36-34, Briar Woods shooting guard Will Shin got in on the action, knocking down a pair of free throws to even things out at 36-36, before burying a three-pointer to give the Falcons their first lead since midway through the second quarter.

“We have some guys that can shoot, some guys that can get to the rim,” Butler said. “So if we can get that inside presence, it helps to free things up.”

The big difference down the stretch was Briar Woods’ execution at the free throw line. The Falcons shot 13-for-14 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter and went 21-for-22 on the game. Phillips went 10-for-10.

“I would say free throws were the reason we won the game,” Phillips said. “We shoot a lot of free throws every day, and obviously, it paid off tonight.”

Rock Ridge senior forward Andrew Sanderson had a monstrous second quarter – scoring 10 of his 12 – as the Phoenix built a 7-point lead heading into the break, but the Falcons did an excellent job of containing him in the second half.

And for the third time this season, Briar Woods held Rock Ridge senior guard Alex Fitch – who was named a Potomac District co-Player of the Year – to less than 20 points.

“Hunter [Auch] had him all game pretty much. He’s a competitor,” Butler said. “He’s battled through injury all year. Hunter’s just a gritty kid.”

On February 15, No. 2 Briar Woods will travel to John Champe High School to battle No. 5 Freedom – who cruised past No. 1 Potomac Falls – with the Potomac District title up for grabs.

“I think our kids have learned how to win all year, and we have a little more confidence going into this one,” Butler said. “We’re really excited for it, and we’ll show up ready to play.”

Mike Ferrara captured more than 60 photos at the game…

Briar Woods Stats
Briar Woods Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Free Throws
Holden Phillips 26 11 1 1 1 10-for-10
Aidan Clark 14 1 1 0 0 6-for-6
Will Shin 12 3 0 0 0 4-for-4
Connor Hutton 2 4 0 1 0 0-for-0
Justin Rutkowski 2 3 0 1 0 0-for-0
Ryan Young 2 2 0 0 0 0-for-0
Tyler Warden 2 1 1 0 0 0-for-0
Nicholas Conway 1 4 1 1 0 1-for-2
Hunter Auch 0 1 5 0 0 0-for-0
Falcons Totals 61 30 9 4 1 21-for-22
Rock Ridge Stats
Rock Ridge Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Free Throws
Alex Fitch 16 7 1 1 0 4-for-4
Gregory Spurlock Jr. 12 5 1 0 0 0-for-0
Andrew Sanderson 12 2 0 0 0 2-for-2
Sam Larsen 8 6 1 1 0 0-for-1
Joseph Simmons 2 3 0 0 0 0-for-0
Evan Fitch 2 2 0 1 0 2-for-4
Ryan Conrow 2 1 0 2 0 0-for-0
Phoenix Totals 54 26 3 5 0 8-for-11
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