Sterling, VA (February 13, 2015) – It was Senior Night for the Potomac Falls girls basketball team, as four upperclassmen were honored Thursday for their service to the Panthers on the hardcourt.
But, like most nights, it was Junior Night for the visiting Broad Run Spartans, as the high-scoring junior duo of Mariah Leonard and Jasmine Braswell combined for 49 points in a 66-46 cruise past the Panthers in Sterling.
Broad Run head coach Sean Gundry called having the very fast, left-handed, 5-foot-11 Leonard alongside the long arms and good hands of the 6-foot-3 Braswell “tremendously special.”
Earlier in February, Leonard became Broad Run’s all-time scoring leader with more than 1,300 career points.
“We’re obviously gifted to have two Division I athletes,” said the Spartans’ third-year helmsman. “But they’re great teammates as well.”
Still, Gundry knows it takes more than two players to make a viable team.
“We need everybody. Everybody on this team, one through 12, can play,” he said. “Every night, someone else has been that third scorer for us.”
A third scorer wasn’t the key in the Spartans’ (14-8) victory at Potomac Falls (2-16), but the third quarter was.
Broad Run scored the first 11 points of the second half, turning a 32-23 halftime advantage into a 43-23 romp within three and a half minutes. Leonard got to the line for a series of free throws, and senior Stephanie Stahl nailed a 3-pointer.
Tosses from the charity stripe did not impact the final result, though they did delay it. The tussle saw 64 free throws taken by the two teams, 18 by Leonard, who converted eight.
Braswell and Leonard helped Broad Run to a healthy domination of the boards too. The two stars hauled in a total of 22 rebounds, 14 by Leonard, seven of which came off the offensive glass.
Leonard was active defensively with six steals, half of which led to easy layups.
“What impresses me more isn’t the stats, it’s the way she carries herself, how humble she is, the way she tries to get her teammates involved,” said Gundry of Leonard. “She’s an incredible locker room leader.”
Kelly O’Brien contributed four points to Broad Run’s effort. Grace Mattimore provided the Spartans’ only other 3-pointer.
Potomac Falls was led by sophomore Kylie Thomas. The 5-foot-9 volleyball star with the long arms put in 12 points, brought down a team-high four rebounds and also stole it twice.
“She was a starter last year, been a starter this year,” Panthers head coach Lynn Ewald said of Thomas. “She’s good with the ball in her hands and very athletically gifted.”
Freshman Jalyn Reid and sophomore Maggie Moorcones each scored six. Moorcones and Madison White both dropped in a three.
White, Alison Mihailovich, Suban Farah and Sydney Sherman were the Panther seniors recognized by the event, and complimented by their coach afterward.
“With them, the intensity has always been high,” said Ewald, who took his seniors out late in the game, giving the fans a chance to applaud them. “It’s a desire to make the team better.”
With young players like Thomas, Reid, Moorcones, freshman Grace Deker and a junior varsity squad that’s 18-1, the future looks bright for girls’ hoops at Potomac Falls.
“One of the things you want is depth,” Ewald said. “Making it competitive in tryouts, it raises everyone’s level and helps the program.”
The future for the Spartans is more immediate. Broad Run enters the Conference 14 tournament with the third seed, opening festivities Feb. 17 at home against six-seed Potomac Falls.
Gundry believes his squad is hitting its stride, with Leonard and Braswell providing the offensive for a hard-nosed man-to-man defensive mindset.
“I think we’re at the point where we’re fine-tuning a couple things here and there,” the coach said. “We’re in the right direction for sure.”
By Jason Rufner