Sterling, Va. — Senior point guard Marissa Almonte was holding back tears and with good reason. Her career as a Briar Woods girls basketball player wasn’t done just yet, extended by a 42-31 win over the No. 1 Potomac Falls girls basketball team on February 27 that both advanced the No. 5 Falcons to the VHSL Region 5C championship and secured them a berth in the VHSL 5A State tournament.
“We’ve prepared for this game the whole season, we knew this was going to happen, and this is what we wanted,” Almonte said. “We knew we wanted to play again.”
Potomac Falls – who was ranked No. 4 in our most recent LoCo Top 5 – came into the year the stringiest defense in the entire county, giving up a mere 31 points per game. However, Briar Woods senior guard Camryn Adkins was electric throughout the night and carved up the Panther defense.
Adkins finished with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting, adding 8 points on 8 shots from the charity stripe. She also added 3 assists and 7 rebounds, a complete effort when her team needed her most.
“We knew how to score against them,” Adkins said. “They’re a really tough defensive team, so in practice, we made sure we found the gaps in their 2-3 zone.”
The game carried extra weight than just the playoff implications, as Briar Woods head coach Raven Short had both been a player and a coach at Potomac Falls under their head coach, Lynn Ewald.
“The girls know, and I’ve been emotional. It means so much to me that they care so much and that they are willing to do this in part understanding my background in this,” Short said. “I’m so thankful and happy to have them.”
Her players knew about the connection between Short and the program and what a win would mean to their coach.
“That’s probably the best feeling, knowing that we won it for her,” Almonte said. “She’s done so much for us over the years so winning this means a lot to all of us.”
It was also stingy interior defense that propelled the Falcons – who were ranked No. 5 in our most recent LoCo Top 5 – to a win, as senior forward Hannah Crawford had 5 blocks on the night, providing the rim protection that allowed them to hold the Panthers well under their 41 points per game average.
Neither team could make a shot for a long period, as there was a three minute stretch where only four points were scored, all for Potomac Falls as they took a slight lead. At the half, however, it was the Falcons who had a 14-13 lead and they never looked back, outscoring the Panthers 28-18 in the second half.
Short and her players emphasized the preparation that had gone into the game, especially the help that had come from outside the program.
“The coaching staff is amazing and my friends are amazing. My friends are coaches so they’re constantly wanting to help us and wanting to watch film,” Short said. “I just had an outpouring of support to just try and help us, and it’s overwhelming and it’s amazing.”
The Panthers (11-1, 19-5) saw their season come to an end but the Falcons (6-6, 15-9) will move on to the VHSL Region 5C championship game on February 28 at Riverside, and beyond, into the state tournament.