Ganges Hopkins Sr. arrived at Potomac High School on Wednesday evening excited about watching his son, Ganges Jr., and the Woodbridge I team play Osbourn Park in a Metro South League summer basketball game featuring two of the league's top teams.
He left an hour later in the midst of a parent's nightmare, riding in an ambulance beside his semiconscious son, who was strapped to a stretcher.
Less than six minutes into the first half of the game, Hopkins Jr. was on the bottom of a scramble for a loose ball. Two players landed on his head, driving it into the court and knocking a tooth out. With blood spurting from his mouth, Hopkins Jr. lay on his side just above the three-point line, fading in and out of consciousness as his father knelt by him, holding a wet towel to his neck while offering words of encouragement.
"I knew he was stunned, but I thought he had just bit his tongue," said Hopkins Sr., who was a game-time fill-in as the team's coach. "You never want to see any child--your son or any child--get hurt like that. You just hope for the best."
After about a 45-minute delay, Woodbridge--which held a 28-4 lead at the time of the accident--was declared the winner. Hopkins was taken to Potomac Hospital, where he had his tooth reattached and received several stitches to his mouth.
"We were all pretty scared there for a while," Woodbridge assistant Lynn Bowers said. "We were pretty worried."
Potomac Gets Outside Help Potomac summer league coach Chip Lozinak came off the court after his team's 69-67 loss to Centreville with his shirt soaked, looking more like he had run the floor with his players than walk the sidelines. It appeared Lozinak might have to do just that, as only six Potomac players were in attendance minutes before the game.
The coach recruited varsity football and track athlete Rico Lloyd to fill out the roster and saved his running for the sidelines, frequently leaping to his feet and shouting instructions.
Such is life in summer league basketball. Missing from the lineup were four of the team's starters. Jernavis Draughn--recently named most valuable player of the Keystone Camp at Albright College in Reading, Pa.--was at an AAU tournament in Orlando. Shooting guard Mark Cunningham was nursing an injured ankle, and Justice Murray and Cameron Kirby were absent. Lozinak said the absence of so many players did not take away from the game's importance--which featured the top two teams in the league--but provided opportunities for other players.
"It gives some kids some minutes to show what they can do against good competition," Lozinak said. "It's good. It's summer league. We want the kids to step up."
One of the players who rose to the occasion was rising sophomore Ian Somers, who scored 21 points and spurred a Potomac second-half comeback. Potomac trailed by 15 points in the second half and was down, 62-51, with 7 minutes 5 seconds remaining. But Somers scored nine points down the stretch and was at the foul line with 2.9 seconds remaining and his team trailing by two points.
But a summer's worth of foul shooting practice did not pay off for Somers, who missed both free throws. Somers hung his head briefly but hardly seemed fazed by the free throws. Instead, he was happy with the playing time.
"I've been practicing free throws all summer," Somers said shaking his head. "Today, with the team almost all gone . . . I got a chance to shine."
Lozinak took notice of Somers's performance as well.
"He just plays so hard and with such intensity," Lozinak said. "He's going to get better. When he grows a bit and gets some experience, he's going to get better."
Metro South Standings
Team W L
Potomac 8 1
Centreville 7 1
Woodbridge I 6 1
Osbourn Park 7 2
Stonwall Jackson 5 4
Robinson 4 4
Mount Vernon 4 4
Woodbridge II 3 6
Osbourn 3 6
West Springfield 2 7
Annandale 1 7
Seton 0 7