Saturday's late game

Potomac Falls wins first Virginia AA Division 4 title

Potomac Falls Coach Jeff Hawes and his players survived double overtime to win the first boys' basketball title for a Loudoun County school. The Panthers beat Broadway in the Virginia AA Division 4 final.
Potomac Falls Coach Jeff Hawes and his players survived double overtime to win the first boys' basketball title for a Loudoun County school. The Panthers beat Broadway in the Virginia AA Division 4 final. (Tracy A. Woodward/the Washington Post)
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By Matt Brooks
Monday, March 15, 2010

In the days leading up to Saturday's Virginia AA Division 4 final against Broadway at Virginia Commonwealth University's Siegel Center, Potomac Falls Coach Jeff Hawes did everything he could to bolster his team's confidence.

With a 13-point regular season victory over the Fighting Gobblers already on their résumé, the veteran coach tried to trick his players into believing they could win the rematch by 20, despite his knowledge to the contrary.

Long after the final buzzer sounded on Potomac Falls' thrilling 69-64 double-overtime win that put the Panthers into the record books and sent their euphoric coach running onto the floor, the man with all the answers sat down in the press room and, for a moment, could not find words.

"I wouldn't even know where to begin," Hawes said.

In the preceding two hours he and his players had experienced a full season's worth of exhilarating highs and crushing lows.

The Panthers (23-2) trailed the entire game before junior point guard Zack Curran knocked down a pair of jumpers and sophomore Greg Graves threw down a thunderous dunk to put Potomac Falls on top to start the fourth quarter.

But it took a Broadway turnover, Brendon Chesson's running floater with 31 seconds left and a missed three-pointer by the Gobblers' Chris Knight to get the game to overtime.

The Panthers escaped defeat again when Broadway's Adam Caplinger made only one of two free throws with 1.8 seconds remaining in the first overtime to tie the score at 57.

From there, junior guard Lukas Mihailovich was unstoppable, scoring 10 of his team's final 17 points to finish with 33 points and 13 rebounds and lead the Panthers to the first boys' basketball championship for a Loudoun County school.

"It's a one-possession game the whole way through," Mihailovich said. "I was just trying to come up with a big bucket."

Graves finished with 15 rebounds, 8 points and 8 blocks, Curran had 7 points and Chesson scored all 11 of his points after halftime.

"When everything was going on there at the end, it was really a surreal moment," said Hawes, the only coach in school history. "Greg was coming to hug me, and I thought any second that I was going to have to wake up and go to work. It just didn't really seem real.

"It's something I've dreamt of for a long time and never really thought it would happen. We thought maybe next year we'd have a shot. To be sitting where we are and be state champions, it's very overwhelming."


© 2010 The Washington Post Company

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