Gar-Field Coach Larry Baker wants his team to set the game's tempo from the tip, and his Indians carried out that plan to near perfection last night, as No. 14 Gar-Field scored the first 11 points of the game and went on to defeat host Potomac, 47-34, in a Cardinal District girls basketball game.
"We want to play up-tempo--our tempo--right away, and we want somebody down on the break, because a layup or a two-on-one break is better than any offense you can run," said Baker, whose team led, 17-3, after the first quarter.
Injured Potomac senior Kimisha Dabney did not play, and the Panthers struggled to replace her 16.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Gar-Field (8-2, 2-0) took advantage of the all-district forward's absence by changing defenses and forcing bad shots. Potomac (6-4, 1-1) made only one of 17 first-quarter shots and only 12 of 54 for the game.
Dabney and her sister Erica, a Panthers sophomore, were injured when their car was rear-ended Sunday while stopped at a light on Prince William Parkway. Kimisha, who didn't practice during the week, watched from the bench, out of uniform. Erica played sparingly in the second and fourth quarters.
"The car was totaled. That's how bad it was," Potomac Coach Mike Adkins said. "But we need to know how we can play without Kimisha."
Kimisha Dabney received physical therapy during the week, and Adkins doesn't expect her to play until next Saturday against Woodbridge.
"I'd like to have her back tomorrow," Adkins said. "But this is high school basketball, not life. One game [without Kimisha] is not going to hurt over the season."
But Potomac's lack of inside scoring did hurt against Gar-Field.
Kimisha "gives us a post presence that was missing in the first half," Adkins said.
Gar-Field kept the game's tempo to its liking, and when Nikki Wells's outlet passes weren't producing easy shots, the Indians were getting fouled. Gar-Field made 16 of 23 free throws.
"We try to get the ball out as quickly as possible," Baker said of Wells's left-handed outlet passes, reminiscent of Washington Bullets great Wes Unseld's. "Earlier in the season we would take a couple dribbles, then pass. Now we want the first pass to half court and the second one deep."
Potomac did manage to contain Gar-Field's talented duo of Wells and Kia Manuel, but senior guard Vanessa Massie made three of four three-pointers and scored a game-high 18 points. Wells did grab 10 rebounds, and Manuel added 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
"We challenged our guards all week to step up," Baker said. "If I was trying to stop us, I would try to stop Nikki and Kia. That's what Potomac tried to do."
Massie's third three-point shot with 2 minutes 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter gave Gar-Field a 38-19 lead, forcing Adkins to call a timeout and extinguishing any hope of a Potomac comeback.
Senior Jennifer Felder, shouldering the extra burden of running the offense and picking up the scoring slack, led Potomac with 13 points.
Despite the season-low 34 points, Adkins remained upbeat.
"We'll be there at the end," he said. "I guarantee it."