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Michael Janowski leads Potomac Falls to win over Loudoun County in AA Region II Division 4 semifinal

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As a fifth-grader accompanying his sister, Tori, to Potomac Falls games, Michael Janowski formulated his own hoop dreams. He wanted to wear a Panthers jersey and play in a state tournament.

After Potomac Falls beat Loudoun County, 79-53, in a Virginia AA Region II Division 4 semifinal Thursday in Sterling, Janowski’s dreams became real.

The 6-foot-1 freshman’s first shot sailed through the net with barely a tremor. Janowski poured in eight of his team’s first 10 points, and tied teammate Wanya Allen for a game-high 19 points.

“I surprised myself a little bit,” Janowski said. “It’s a dream come true right now. We’re going to states.”

The win ensures a state tournament berth for Potomac Falls (24-4), but another team stands in the way of a fourth straight Region II Division 4 title.

Millbrook beat Briar Woods, 70-67, Thursday to set up Saturday’s region championship back at Potomac Falls at 6 p.m.

Potomac Falls Coach Jeff Hawes said his team’s focus was exactly where he wanted when the players could have easily slept on Loudoun County (17-9) and looked ahead to the weekend. The Panthers entered Thursday coming off a 45-point victory over Tuscarora (Va.) on Tuesday.

“We probably should have won Tuesday night and tonight, but our kids didn’t overlook that,” Hawes said. “They got themselves ready to play. Therefore we kind of avoided any scares.”

On Thursday, each team removed its starters with just less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Nine players contributed points for the Panthers, and Connor Gore led the Raiders with 12 points.

After surrendering a three-pointer to open the game, the Panthers added five points on the next two possessions and never trailed.

They led by 26 points in the second quarter, when they also held Loudoun County to a stretch of more than seven scoreless minutes. During that period, senior center Steven Tondi absorbed a hard foul and left the court grimacing while holding his right arm.

Hawes said Tondi dislocated his shoulder and left the game for the hospital. The Panthers’ staff popped the shoulder back into its socket, but Hawes said the extent of the damage is unknown. He does not expect Tondi back against Millbrook.

More AA Region II results

Loudoun Valley (25-3) ensured a place in the AA Region II Div. 3 title game by beating Monticello, 70-49. The Vikings will face Handley, which beat Western Albemarle, 58-55, to earn its spot.

In girls’ play, Woodgrove (24-3) beat Millbrook, 5059-39, to advance to the Region II Div. 4 final against Loudoun County (23-4), which beat Sherando, 68-45. Millbrook had won three straight state titles, most recently in Division 4 and in Division 3 in 2010 and 2011. Woodgrove beat the Raiders, 53-37, in the AA Dulles District tournament and has won all three meetings with Loudoun County this season.

For the Region II Div. 3 girls, Monticello defeated Heritage (14-12), 50-40, to earn a place in the region championship game. It will face Western Albemarle, which dispatched Handley, 51-25, in its semifinal.

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