As Potomac Falls Coach Jeff Hawes walked to the table for Tuesday’s news conference, he wrapped his right arm around D’Shawn Shorts’s shoulders, the senior’s eyes red with sadness and overflowing with tears.
The first minutes of the presser took on the same tone, with Hawes lamenting the Panthers’ shortcomings following a 76-69 loss to Salem in the Virginia AA Division 4 state semifinals at VCU’s Siegel Center in Richmond.
But the more Hawes reflected, the more optimistic he became. Much of that had to do with the person sitting next to him — sophomore Wanya Allen.
All season long, Allen’s play has stood out as much as his purple-dyed mohawk. As the team’s leading scorer at 16.5 points per game, Allen has the size (6-3, 190 pounds) and skill to further the Panthers’ recent success, a four-year run that’s included two state titles and four region crowns.
The swingman is a tough draw for most opponents. Allen can barrel to the basket for difficult baskets in the lane and knock down the open shot. He’s also aggressive on defense — sometimes a bit too aggressive, which led him to foul out on Tuesday. But neither Hawes, nor any other coach that Allen goes on to play for (think Division I or II), is likely to complain about the intensity and aggression that Allen displays.
Along with Allen, the Panthers return three of their top four scorers (freshman Michael Janowski and junior Deandre Thomas), making the future bright for a young group that’s still working to grow.
“I’ve learned to show more leadership and keep playing, play team ball, assist more and help us do stuff as a team,” Allen said.
In Tuesday’s other playoff hoops action:
- Behind Markell Young’s career-high 27 points, Wise routed No. 12 DuVal, 85-54, advancing to the Maryland 4A South region final where it will face No. 5 Eleanor Roosevelt.
- Magruder moved one step closer to defending its state crown by beating Kennedy, 62-48, to move on to the Maryland 4A West region final against Quince Orchard.
PHOTOS FROM LAST NIGHT
Check out the action from Wise’s emphatic upset of DuVal in last night’s Maryland 4A South region semifinal.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 8
Number of boys’ and girls’ teams that will vie for the new DCSAA city title, beginning with Wednesday’s girls’ quarterfinal round.
When the brackets were released Monday, it came with some surprise as Maret was left out of the field. For those who haven’t heard yet, the Frogs, who had earned an automatic bid as the Mid-Atlantic Conference regular season champs, were ruled ineligible that morning because they field two fifth-year seniors. Coach Garrett O’Donnell expressed some surprise when we talked Monday but said he hopes to compete next year and will cheer on MAC rival Sidwell Friends in the meantime.
With their spot in the DCSAA tournament in limbo until Monday and several of his players beginning spring sports, Sidwell Friends Coach Eric Singletary was unable to hold practice until Monday.
As a former All-Met player at Sidwell Friends, Singletary is in favor of the new city championship’s inclusive format, which no longer pits the D.C. public school champion against the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament winner. Still, the Quakers coach hopes to see even more teams included and a better system for determining the field in the future.
Singletary would like the field expanded to at least 12 teams with fewer automatic bids. Also, due to the various rules across conferences, Singletary is suggesting that a coaches committee be formed to evaluate strength of schedule and other factors in selecting the teams – similar to the Bowl Championship Series standings in football.
“As a D.C. resident, I support the new tournament because I never thought the game should be limited to just two conferences,” Singletary said. “But with a lot of people against breaking that tradition, I think better steps need to be taken to make the new format more acceptable and inclusive.”
–Gonzaga dropped out of the latest ESPN high school basketball rankings while Montrose Christian re-entered the top 25.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
Loudoun County vs. Salem, 11 a.m. at VCU’s Siegel Center
The Raiders looks to knock off Salem in the Virginia AA Division 4 state semifinals.