Ashburn, Va. — For the Briar Woods High School boys basketball team, this season has been all about growth. In their first six Potomac District games, the Falcons went 2-4 losing games by 18 to Riverside, 14 to Stone Bridge, 9 to Potomac Falls, and 16 to Rock Ridge. Fast forward to the second half of the district schedule, and while the Falcons only went 3-3, their growth was clear falling to Riverside and Rock Ridge by just 3 their second time around while beating Potomac Falls by 11.
On February 8, Briar Woods’ growth shined brightest as the No. 7 Falcons took a short bus ride across Brambleton where they defeated No. 2 Rock Ridge, 44-43, in a VHSL Region 5C quarterfinal.
“This has been a rewarding year for this whole group. You can probably just check scores and see how much better we did the second time around,” Briar Woods head coach Derek Butler said. “Rock Ridge beat us by three last time because we missed at the buzzer, so to finally get one is pretty special.”
Briar Woods played in a pair of one-score games late in the regular season, including the loss to Rock Ridge on January 30 and a loss to Riverside at the buzzer earlier that week on January 27, so the bitter taste of close game losses still lingered on their minds.
After leading for nearly 30 minutes of their region quarterfinal against Rock Ridge, the Falcons found themselves down 43-42 with 30 seconds to play. With the Phoenix defense locked in, Briar Woods senior guard Michael Tehan came off a screen and missed a three from the corner, however, Briar Woods senior forward Dominic Meyers was there to clean up the offensive rebound.
Meyers took one dribble, fought through contact, and kissed the ball off the glass, finding the bottom of the net as the Falcons retook the lead, 44-43.
“Early in the year, Dom could get caught up thinking he was getting fouled, but he’s learned to play through it,” Butler said. “For him to get the bucket at the end of the year, after playing through contact, is just a microcosm of the whole team and the way we’ve battled the whole year to get better even though our record hasn’t always shown it.”
The game wasn’t over quite yet as Rock Ridge senior point guard Greg Spurlock received the inbound pass with about 10 seconds left, went coast-to-coast, and got a good look which rattled around the rim and fell out as the Falcons celebrated their upset win over their crosstown rival.
That had been the story of the night for the Phoenix who were held to a season-low 43 points, the same number of points they had beat the Falcons with in their January 30 win, 43-40.
Briar Woods jumped out to an early 16-6 lead, giving themselves some much needed cushion against one of the best players in Loudoun County in Spurlock.
“Wherever he was, we just made sure we had two people there to take away his driving lanes,” Tehan said. “We kept Dom on his side to keep some length on him.”
While Tehan, Meyers, and the rest of the Falcons did what they could, Spurlock slowly but surely got the Phoenix back into the game and after trailing for nearly 28 minutes, the Coppin State-commit put together a solid second half, helping Rock Ridge completely erase the gap at 41-41.
In the end, however, Briar Woods’ growth over the season taught them the perseverance they needed to outlast Rock Ridge and continue their postseason.
No. 7 Briar Woods will now travel to No. 6 Potomac Falls for a VHSL Region 5C semifinal on February 9. The Falcons and Panthers split their season series and will look to settle the rubber match with a region championship game berth on the line.
“We played well against Potomac Falls last time. But they’re going to be ready to play,” Butler said. “They’re going to have a good game plan for us, and they always play hard, so we’ll need to bring it 100%.”
Briar Woods Stats
Rock Ridge Stats