Just nine days removed from a huge upset over Maret last year, the Potomac School experienced its worst defeat of the season against the same opponent, a 24-point loss in the MAC tournament semifinal.
The young Panthers were left feeling empty, but they knew they had reason to look ahead to the next season. They had lost just three seniors and believed they could contend again.
“That game was huge motivation. It’s not the way we wanted to exit the playoffs,” senior Logan Samuels said. “We beat Maret a week or two before, we were confident and started fast, then they switched to a zone and we ended up losing by a lot. It was a huge motivator for us this year.”
Samuels, a savvy shooting guard, leads Potomac School (8-1) in scoring with 12 points per game. He is joined in the backcourt by senior Jalen Broome, the 5-foot-10 guard who in the fall raked up 2,125 rushing yards on the Virginia Independent School Division II finalist football team, good for fourth in the area.
After defeating four area opponents to open the season, the Panthers traveled to San Diego over the holidays for the Surf ‘n Slam Tournament. Samuels said the team enjoyed the sunny climate, but it was strictly a business trip.
“We made sure we focused though on court, and we had a lot of team meetings while we were there,” Samuels said.
They won two out of the three games by 17 and 20 points, respectively, and junior Phil Newsome earned most outstanding player honors for a 16-point performance in the tournament final.
The Panthers faced their toughest area opponent Sunday in No. 7 Bullis and lost their first game of the season in a 61-41 rout. But Potomac School doesn’t have time to hold its head low with a Wednesday road matchup against a talented St. James (Md.) squad approaching.
“We aren’t going to make any excuses. We wanted to give them a more competitive game, but the team moved on before we left the locker room,” Panthers Coach Levi Franklin said. “It was a reality check for them.”
Samuels was back in the gym Saturday after lighting the Bulldogs up from downtown with four three pointers and a game-high 16 points. He is receiving interest from High Point, American, Radford and Navy.
“We wanted to make a statement, but came out slow and we were trying to get back in it the whole time,” Samuels said of the loss to Bullis. “We were upset, but we just have to get back in it in practice.”