Ashburn, Va. — When a No. 1 seed hosts a No. 6 seed in an 8-team playoff tournament, it’s usually pretty clear cut as to what the result will be heading into the game. However, that wasn’t the case when Stone Bridge High School hosted Potomac Falls High School for the VHSL Region 5C championship game on February 12 in Ashburn.
Entering the game, the No. 1 Bulldogs were red hot having won 7 in a row, but they knew they’d have their hands full with No. 6 Panthers, who are perennial state contenders.
Knowing they’d need to grab the momentum early, Stone Bridge used an 18-8 first quarter to jump out to a big lead from which the Bulldogs would never look back in their 88-61 win over the Panthers to claim the VHSL Region 5C crown.
“I’m kind of in shock; I never thought we’d be here,” Stone Bridge junior guard Jacob Thomas said. “We told ourselves going into the playoffs that we wanted to use our momentum to our advantage, and we did throughout the playoffs.”
Even as Potomac Falls turned up the defensive intensity, Stone Bridge was able to find holes in the pressure and distribute the basketball to the open man, so by the half, Thomas and the Bulldogs had expanded their lead to 37-20.
“Our guys don’t care who scores. If they get doubled, they kick to somebody. They’re content not scoring, and they’re happy for each other when they do score,” Stone Bridge head coach Kent Kling said. “They don’t care who succeeds as long as the team succeeds.”
That team-first mentality was as evident as ever in the region championship win as four different Bulldogs scored in double figures thanks to 19 team assists. Led by Thomas—who finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists—Stone Bridge also saw double-digit performances from sophomore forwards Sam Whitehead and Domenic Duncan as well as junior guard Dylan Hundertmark—who also added 8 assists.
“When multiple people can score double digits and everyone can contribute, it’s really big in helping us towards that win,” Thomas said.
Defensively, the first quarter really set the tone for the Bulldogs as the Panthers never got into rhythm offensively, despite scoring progressively more points each quarter. Potomac Falls was led by senior forward Jacob Mancuso—who put together an 11-point, 13-rebound double double—and junior guard Kyle Ables, who provided a 10-point spark off the bench.
“Credit to Potomac Falls because they rebounded really well in the beginning of the game,” Kling said. “We just tried to stay compressed as much as possible, but then we were also able to close out on the perimeter.”
After hosting throughout the region tournament, Stone Bridge will go on the road to Region 5D Champion Patrick Henry-Roanoke on February 17 to battle in a VHSL 5A State semifinal. The winner of that game will host the VHSL 5A State championship game.
“Patrick Henry is probably going to want to run; we can run, but we can also play in the half court,” Kling said. “We know we have to play defense, and we’re going to have to protect the paint. In the end, we’ll just have to see.”
Stone Bridge Stats
Potomac Falls Stats