Ashburn, Va. — After back-to-back defensive masterpieces against two of the top scoring teams in Loudoun County, the Potomac Falls High School girls basketball team can finally say it: defense wins championships.
No. 5 Potomac Falls held No. 2 Stone Bridge to a season low 28 points as the Panthers suffocated the Bulldogs’ offense to claim the program’s first VHSL Region 5C title, 32-28, on February 12 in Ashburn.
“I’ve had great teams over the years, great kids, and they’ve all worked so hard,” 18th-year Potomac Falls head coach Lynn Ewald said. “It’s very rewarding being able to see it come to fruition with such a great group of kids. It’s a great honor to be able to coach these girls.”
Coming off a region semifinal in which they held Woodgrove—who came in averaging nearly 60 points per game as the highest scoring offense in all of Loudoun County—to just 36 points, Potomac Falls turned around and held Stone Bridge to just 11 first-half points in the region championship game.
“We have really long arms on our back line with really good shot blockers, and our guards are really fast,” Potomac Falls senior center Paige Anderson said. “We’ve always been able to speed teams up while they’re on offense then slow things back down when we’re on offense.”
Using their length down low and speed at the top of their 2-3 zone, the Panthers forced the Bulldogs to the perimeter and kept them off the glass through the first two quarters, taking a 17-11 lead into the half.
“We know with the length and the size we have, we can play defense,” Ewald said. “We figure if we can’t score, as long as we can stop the other team from scoring, we’re in great shape. We knew if we got them playing our game at our pace, it would be to our advantage.”
Led defensively by Anderson and senior forward Ashley Allen, the Panthers had their hands full as the Bulldogs feature a balanced scoring attack led by senior center Sarah O’Day.
O’Day—who finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds—and the Bulldogs slowly cracked through the Potomac Falls defense in the third quarter, while holding the Panthers to just 1 point coming out of the half, to take an 19-18 lead into the fourth quarter.
“Hats off to Stone Bridge. We knew they were going to make a run,” Ewald said. “They pushed through, hit some buckets, and took the lead. We knew it was going to be a tight game.”
Down the stretch, it was Potomac Falls’ ability to rebound the ball on the offensive end, while holding the Bulldogs to just 2 second-half offensive rebounds, that proved to be the difference as the Panthers outlasted the Bulldogs and claimed their first ever region title.
“Sometimes our best offense is a missed shot,” Ewald said. “Obviously, we want it to go in, but with our size and length, we know if we can get shots to sit up on the rim, we can go get them.”
After back-to-back upset wins, Potomac Falls will look to once again earn a victory in enemy territory as they travel to either Patrick Henry-Roanoke or North Stafford for a VHSL 5A State semifinal on February 17. A win in the state semifinal would mean the Panthers get to host the state title game.
“I never ever thought this would happen,” Anderson said. “It’s really hard to put into words what I’m feeling right now. It hasn’t really hit me.”
Potomac Falls Stats
Stone Bridge Stats