There exist a lot of equalizers in the world of Virginia high school basketball. The lack of a shot clock is one. Junk defenses — gimmicky combination zone/man looks designed to bewilder potent attacks — are another.
When Potomac (10-0) faced host Henrico in the final of Henrico Holiday Hoops tournament two weeks ago, the smoke and mirrors came into play.
The ploy delivered mixed results. Haynes was held to seven points, and Porter, a George Mason recruit scored just 10. But with ample real estate on the perimeter, Panthers senior guards Torrey Dixon and Xavier Laws capitalized, each scoring 16 points in a 70-64 overtime win.
“To this point, with Henrico doing to us what they did in the tournament, we’ve now seen every defense known to mankind,” Potomac Coach Keith Honore said.
With a senior-laden group, these Panthers have experienced hype, success and failure.
“This year, we’re a lot closer than we were last year,” Porter said. “People just want it more than they wanted it last year.”
During the first month of the season, Potomac didn’t experience much in the way of adversity. The Panthers’ closest game before the holiday tournament was a season-opening 69-63 win over Battlefield. They followed that up with seven straight double-digit victories.
Honore says that in past seasons, he’s been able to directly trace clunker game performances back to bad practices.
It’s a trend the Panthers have tried to buck this season.
“Our practices aren’t perfect, but we get after it,” Porter said.
The intensity rarely drops during the Panthers workouts, because with each pass, shot, or layup, jobs are on the line.
“I think our kids understand if they don’t do their job, there’s somebody waiting to do it,” Honore said.
For the 6-10 Porter (12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds per game), a true center who does the majority of his work below the free-throw line, adding patience to his resume has been a focus this winter.
“I’m working on being patient with my low post moves and not rushing so much to put up a shot. I need to take time, evaluate the defense, and make good decisions,” he said.