Girls’ basketball: South County is on the rise; Potomac Falls shakes off flat start to beat Loudoun Valley

January 28, 2013

South County has won its past two games, beating teams it had lost to the first time through the Virginia AAA Patriot District schedule and notching the program’s first victories locally since November.

In a 50-49 win over Lee, junior guard April Henson followed up her own miss with three seconds left for the winning basket. She scored 29 points that game. Henson hit a three-pointer with three seconds left to force overtime in an eventual 62-57 win over West Potomac last Tuesday. She finished with 31 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Maria Lujan-Gonzales scored six points in the extra period of that victory.

“They’re starting to like pressure,” South County Coach Noel Klippenstein said of an evolving lineup that now features three starting freshmen. “Can’t say they love it, but some of them are starting to.”

Henson and freshman forward Taylor Nason have combined for 90 of their team’s 112 points in the two recent wins, the Stallions’ first in this area since a Nov. 27 victory over Hayfield. The other three wins came in Blacksburg in a holiday tournament.

With four freshmen and one senior on the roster, the Stallions figured to be better late than early. Henson has settled in at point guard since taking over that position last month.

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from high school basketball games in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC/The Washington Post)

“It feels like it’s just coming together,” Klippenstein said. “We’ve had to work through a lot of things to get to this point. This has been three games in a row with the same starters, and that’s the first time all season.”

This week the Stallions (6-11, 2-7) are scheduled to face the top three teams in the district — third-place Lake Braddock (tied for that spot with W.T. Woodson), first-place West Springfield and second-place T.C. Williams.

White, Potomac Falls overcome ‘flat’ first quarter

Dominique White was nervous. This was not how her team was supposed to play.

In the past she would have let the emotions of the situation overtake her. That did not happen against Loudoun Valley on Saturday night in Purcellville.

White and Potomac Falls (10-8, 9-5 AA Dulles) trailed the Vikings at the end of the first quarter. After White dismissed her nerves and delivered a pep talk, the Panthers rallied for a 58-44 win.

“At the beginning of the game, I felt like they wanted it more than we did,” White said. “That’s when we realized, okay, we have to step up. This can’t be happening.”

Both White and Potomac Falls Coach Lynn Ewald admitted the Panthers were “flat” heading into the game.

Ewald attributed the lack of focus to a missed practice on Friday after school let out early and an unproductive practice in the session before that.

White traced the issue to overconfidence resulting from the team’s first game against Loudoun Valley (6-8, 7-11), when the Panthers easily dispatched the Vikings 63-30.

No matter the reason, Potomac Falls converted a first-quarter concern into a rallying cry for fortitude.

“Usually when teams get ahead of us, our team puts our heads down like this is it, we’re going to lose,” White said. “Yesterday we actually came together as a team.”

Senior center Patricia Mook set the tone down low with 16 rebounds and seven blocks to go with 11 points. White, a junior guard, continued to lead the Panthers in scoring with 17 points on the night.

She impressed her coach most with her defensive output, notching five steals.

“A handful of them were steals at the top of the key that turned into breakaways for us. Those are always the best type of steals,” Ewald said.

Emily Thompson was the high scorer for Loudoun Valley with 13 points, and Rachel Bowyer and Kailey Liverman were close behind with 10 points each.

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