Not even four minutes had passed in Saturday’s contest between No. 16 Potomac (Md.) and Sidwell Friends but the game had already taken a decisive turn. Potomac guard Dion Wiley had been whistled for his third foul, sending the star junior to the bench and opening the door for Quakers senior Josh Hart to take control in this marquee matchup.
Hart scored nine of his game-high 31 points in the opening quarter, sparking the Quakers to a 74-59 win in the DMV Elite Holiday Classic at Trinity University in Northeast Washington. Wiley finished with 15 points.
“We knew coming in it would be big shots against big shots with Dion and Josh, and I had put the challenge on Dion to try and slow down Josh, but once he got that third foul, he couldn’t play as aggressive as he would have liked to,” Potomac Coach Renard Johnson said. “Josh had quite the game after that.”
Holding a 17-15 lead, the Quakers (10-1) opened the second quarter strong, outscoring the Wolverines 15-4 on the sharpshooting of Matt Hillman (13 points) and Hart’s aggressive drives to the lane. The Wolverines wouldn’t bow out, though, as freshman Randall Brodie created scoring opportunities in transition to keep Potomac within six entering halftime.
The Wolverines (3-2) gained more momentum in the third quarter after shifting to a matchup 2-3 zone. This allowed Wiley to avoid deeper foul trouble and forced the Quakers into a handful of turnovers. Consecutive buckets by Brodie pushed the Wolverines ahead, 43-41, midway through the third period, leading Quakers Coach Eric Singletary to call a timeout.
“When they went to the zone, we had to refocus and break through the zone with skip passes and cuts through the middle for open baskets,” Singletary said. “Once we started doing that, it paid dividends for us.”
Hart’s elevated play didn’t hurt, either. After both teams traded several baskets to open the fourth, Hart soared into the lane for a dunk that resulted in a three-point play. The senior went on to score six of the Quakers’ next eight points during an 11-2 run that put the game out of reach for the Wolverines.
“With the way Matt [Hillman] and some of our other guys were knocking down outside shots, it opened up driving lanes for me late in the game and I just tried to take it strong to the rim,” said Hart, who has scored at least 30 points in three games this season. “We just played smart basketball and got a big win against a good team.”