Leesburg, Va. — Basketball is known for being a game of runs, and, fortunately, for the Potomac Falls High School basketball team they had the big run when it mattered most when they traveled to Riverside High School for a Potomac District clash on January 31 in Leesburg.
Led by junior guard Joshua Prince, junior forwards Colby Margenau and John Opiola, and senior forward Gavin Plunkett, the Panthers weathered a second-quarter run by the Rams to take a lead into the half then used two big runs in the second half to defeat the Rams, 49-38, avenging a loss from earlier in the season.
“We had five guys tonight that had 8 or 9 each. I love that,” Potomac Falls head coach Jeff Hawes said. “We’re hard to scout because of that. It could be any guy on any night.”
Tied at 8-8 midway through the first quarter, Margenau sparked an 8-0 Potomac Falls run to close the first frame to give the Panthers a 16-8 lead heading into the second quarter.
From there, Riverside went on its big run, holding Potomac Falls to just four points in the quarter as senior center Tai Schaefer got going to cut the deficit to 20-18 heading into the half.
Coming out of the half, the Panthers flipped the script as they held the Rams to just four points in the third quarter, while at the same time finishing at the basket to open up a 31-22 lead.
“We play as good as defense as I’ve ever coached. That’s what we hang our hat on. We try not to be fun to play against and challenge every shot all night long,” Hawes said. “We feel like if we have one burst to go up 9 or 10, you might not be able to catch us with the defense we play. That’s kind of exactly what happened tonight.”
That lead quickly deteriorated as the Rams opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to just two. However, the Panthers had their answer as Opiola had a 19’ jumper roll over the front of the rim to stop the run and extend the Potomac Falls lead back to 33-29.
“That was a little scary. Johnny scored and gave us a chance to call a timeout, catch our breath, and reset our defense,” Hawes said. “Then we got a stop and hit some free throws and it was back to 7. That was a key stretch.”
That Opiola basket triggered a 13-3 run by the Panthers, which included a stretch of shooting 9-for-11 from the free throw line as the Panthers were able to avenge their January 10 loss to the Rams, 49-38.
Potomac Falls (6-1, 14-5) will look to solidify their spot at the top of the Potomac District when they travel to Woodgrove on February 3. Riverside (4-3, 11-6) will look to get back in the win column when they host Stone Bridge on the same night.
“We are a whole different team than we were three weeks ago,” Hawes said. “Tomorrow is February, and we’re always ready for Panther-uary.”
Mike Ferrara captured 125+ photos at the game!
Potomac Falls Stats