By Jason S Rufner
Special to Viva Loudoun
Ashburn (Feb. 1, 2014) – At no point did the Potomac Falls High School boys basketball team trail Broad Run Friday in a sound 65-52 Conference 14 beating. It was never tied after the midpoint of the second quarter, never within less than three in the third quarter and never under six in the fourth.
Three weeks after blowing a late seven-point lead on their home floor in suffering a one-point defeat to the Spartans, the Panthers came in to Broad Run’s gymnasium with a fresh gameplan and bent on revenge.
They got what they sought. In the visiting locker room afterward, the jubilant Panthers could be seen jumping en masse, roaring in celebration. Coach Jeff Hawes was right there jumping and shouting with them.
Hawes stayed intentionally coy as to exactly what his gameplan was. He might have to deal with Broad Run (5-1 in conference, 14-2 overall) again in the 5A North Conference 14 tournament.
“It’s all about fighting now. It’s all about being a man,” said Hawes, who came in to the game emphatically emphasizing his team’s need to be physical. “We needed this, psyche-wise…. This was an overall gut-check, more than strategy, to be honest.”
Potomac Falls (3-3 , 13-4 overall) has now won six of their last seven, while the Spartans saw their 13-game winning streak snapped.
“We got flat-out beat. It was the first time we actually got it put to us,” said Broad Run coach John Costello, who added that “this is our first bump in the road. They’ve earned this bump in the road because of what they’ve done previously. It’s what we do next week that will be important for us.”
With four conference games left, the Spartans keep the top spot in the conference standings, important for conference tournament seeding. The Panthers, who have four contests remaining, are tied with Tuscarora and Briar Woods, one game back of Stone Bridge and two behind Broad Run — though three of Potomac Falls’ four setbacks have come by exactly one point.
But on a raucous Friday night along Ashburn Road, the rambunctious Panthers were never behind Broad Run.
The visitors opened by nailing shots from a patient spread offense, as Danny Cox and Matt Tierney propelled Potomac Falls to a quick 12-4 lead to force an early Broad Run timeout. The onslaught continued with a 6-0 run to start the second quarter.
It didn’t get better for the Spartans until midway through the second, when Travis Fulgham tomahawked down a two-handed jam to tie it up at 22-22, bringing the Broad Run faithful to their feet.
But the Panthers, using their own section of vocal supporters, were undaunted. They used a Matt Mologne 3-pointer to spur a 7-0 run in closing out the half.
“Every time they threw a big punch at us, we answered it,” Hawes said. “I’m real proud of my guys.”
A Justin Hart 3-pointer edged Broad Run to within three halfway into the third, but again Potomac Falls answered with seven straight points. The Spartans crept back to six down with six minutes left, but two minutes later the Panthers’ lead was north of 10.
A.J. Robinson helped ensure that no further serious threat would be made by coolly knocking down all eight of his free throw attempts in the game’s latter stages.
The Panthers employed a triangle-and-two defense, effectively focusing on Broad Run stars Fulgham and Khiorie Stewart. Both were held well below their 18.5 and 19.4 respective point-per-game averages.
Unconverted free throws afflicted Broad Run all night, as did an uncanny number of missed shots within mere feet of the bucket.
“It just seemed like there was a cover on the basket. You just got to finish in transition, and we didn’t finish many times,” Costello said.
Eight Panthers scored, while nine grabbed rebounds. Robinson and Wanya Allen each dished four assists, while Andrew Corum had three blocks.
Allen turned in one of the better rebounding efforts of his career, hauling in 13. Corum brought down 12 ricochets.
“For our team to win, we need to step up the rebounding. So I’m bringing that to my game now, grabbing as many boards as I can,” said Allen, a 6-foot-5 junior forward secure enough in his masculinity to rock a pink mohawk.
The ultra-athletic Fulgham sent back four Panther shots and collected a team-high nine rebounds.
The Spartans look to start a new winning streak Feb. 4 when they travel to Tuscarora, while the Panthers return home to take on Freedom the same night.
1 2 3 4
PF 16 13 15 21 – 65
BR 13 9 14 16 – 52
Potomac Falls 65, Broad Run 52
PF: Cox 13, Robinson 13, Allen 12, Tierney 12, Corum 9, Mologne 3, B. Sweeney 2, Daczkowski 1
BR: Stewart 13, Fulgham 9, Hart 9, Humphrey 6, Ellington 4, King 4, Robinson 4, Hilberath 3
3-pointers: PF 4 (Tierney 2, Mologne Robinson); BR 3 (Hart, Robinson, Stewart)
Free throws: PF 17-28; BR 11-20