Ashburn, Va. — Stone Bridge isn’t used to playing from behind. So when the Potomac Falls High School boys basketball team jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first quarter of their Potomac District matchup on January 19, the Bulldogs could have folded. But they didn’t.
Then when the Panthers held the Bulldogs scoreless for the first five-and-a-half minutes of the second quarter, Stone Bridge could have folded. But they didn’t.
Then when Potomac Falls erased a 12-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs could have folded. But they didn’t.
Stone Bridge team is sitting at the top of the Potomac District for a reason, and they added another quality win to their resume as they outlasted Potomac Falls, 56-53, on January 19 in Ashburn.
“If you look at all of the teams in the Potomac District, anybody can beat anybody,” Stone Bridge head coach Kent Kling said. “It’s always going to be a dog night. It’s just who’s night is it?”
After putting themselves into an early 8-point deficit in the first quarter, Stone Bridge started to claw its way out of it as junior point guard Jacob Thomas went on a mini-run, rallying off 7 in a row to draw the Bulldogs within 1.
Thomas then found sophomore forward Torben Hart in the corner for 3, before ending the quarter on a long pass to sophomore guard Sam Whitehead, who was alone under the basket for an easy finish.
For the next 5:45, the Bulldogs did not score.
Fortunately for Stone Bridge, Potomac Falls also struggled to put the ball in the basket in the second quarter and the Panthers trailed by 1 heading into halftime.
Coming out of the half, Thomas handed the reins over to senior forward Dayvon Faulk, who dominated the scoring and rebounding efforts in the second half, scoring all 12 of his team-high 12 points in the second half while adding 12 of his game-high 17 rebounds during the same two periods
“[Dayvon]’s starting to get it,” Kling said. “He’s a big value add. Double-double almost all the time. He’s a great kid.”
Faulk helped the Bulldogs expand their lead to 12 points towards the end of the third quarter then resolidify that 12-point lead early in the fourth.
“That’s a good club. They hit some big shots. Everybody wants a piece of Potomac Falls, and that’s a compliment,” Potomac Falls head coach Jeff Hawes said. “Teams are hitting shots they don’t usually hit, so we’re a little snakebit right now. But there’s no quit in our dogs.”
That was as true as ever in this one as the Panthers would not go down without a fight.
Trailing by 12, Potomac Falls turned to senior center Jacob Mancuso, who finished in the paint and at the free throw line, adding 7 of his game-high 13 points in the fourth quarter alone. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Mancuso was also in foul trouble and picked up his fifth with just over three minutes to play.
From there, Potomac Falls had an opportunity to tie it up, but senior point guard Aidan Carrillo missed the backside of an and-one free throw. Stone Bridge responded with a three pointer to expand the lead to 4, but Potomac Falls had an immediate response as junior guard Mitch Laurenson hit a three of his own.
“At spells there I thought we had a chance to grab a hold of the game,” Hawes said. “I’m not too big into moral victories, but to be down and fight back like that and have a chance to win a game was big. I’m proud of our guys.”
Down the stretch, Stone Bridge split two sets of free throws to expand their lead to 3, and as he had done all second half, Faulk came up with a big play, blocking a three-point attempt at the buzzer as the Bulldogs (8-1, 8-1) held off the Panthers (3-4, 3-5) and defended their home court.
“When I took the program over, I told them it’s not just going to be three-point shooting from Stone Bridge anymore,” Kling said. “We want to be total basketball players. We want to be basketball smart, we want to take the right shots, we want to attack the boards. We’re working on developing a program here.”
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