Commentators and coaches often say that when teams rally from many points down to creep back into a game, the energy expenditure is so great there is not enough in reserve to overtake the opponent.
Well, with its wealth of depth, Potomac was able to defy conventional wisdom Friday night in its 84-80 double overtime win at Gar-Field.
The Panthers trailed by 21 points in the fourth quarter. But by playing 11 guys throughout the game, they perhaps were more fresh at the end than were the Indians, who rely on a corps of six regulars.
One overlooked Panther reserve was sophomore guard Greg Gordon, who drilled all three of his three-point attempts in limited action. The team's primary outside threat, junior Mark Cunningham, also made three three-pointers--and one two-point field goal--but he took 14 shots.
"Greg has never been shy about shooting the basketball," Potomac Coach Kendall Hayes said. "He's a good shooter, and we kept him on the varsity for that reason."
After the confidence-boosting comeback, Hayes does not think his team will fall into a false sense of security if it trails by 21 points again in the fourth quarter.
"That's not something you want to happen two or three times in a season," he said. "We may have used our trump card right there. We'll have to play a lot better early on from this point."
Potomac had a special visitor at practice Thursday. Former Panther Cliff Hawkins, a University of Kentucky signee who plays at Oak Hill Academy, was in town on break and dropped by to work out with the Panthers.
Picking Up the Pieces
Mounting a 21-point lead over Potomac on Friday night highlighted the Gar-Field boys' strengths--balanced scoring, the ability to dish off to post players for easy baskets, the resolve to stick to a game plan.
But as that 21-point lead dwindled during the last six minutes of regulation in what eventually was an 84-80 double overtime win for Potomac, Gar-Field's weaknesses became evident, as well--ill-advised jumpers, forcing the ball into traffic, missed free throws, unproven depth. Gar-Field committed 31 turnovers in the game, 10 more than the Panthers.
"I think one of the toughest opponents on our schedule is Gar-Field," said Gar-Field Coach Andy Gray, after acknowledging the impressiveness of the Panthers' hasty comeback. "Overcoming some of the mental aspects of playing basketball is something we have to work on."
Gray is hoping the loss to Potomac yields the same type of success a bitter holiday tournament championship setback to Cave Spring yielded last season. The Indians responded by winning 10 consecutive games and later snared the Cardinal District tournament title.
"We hit rock bottom and realized we had to flush and move on," Gray said. "In our six years here, we've never had what you'd call a losing streak, and we don't want to start now."
* Stafford senior center Meghan Wilson, who sat out the past two games after suffering from chest pains early in the week, might have to undergo a minor heart operation to repair the problem, Coach Rick Butler said.
Wilson went to see a cardiologist last week and will visit another specialist Monday. Because her heart condition can act up even without physical exertion, Wilson has been cleared to play, but Butler said the family has decided to keep her inactive, at least for now.
"It doesn't look like it's life-threatening, she's just absolutely not taking any chances," Butler said.
Wilson is not the only ailing starter for the unbeaten Indians. Sophomore guard Shanna Hylton has missed the last three games because of a concussion she suffered in practice three weeks ago after bumping heads with a teammate while diving for a loose ball. Hylton, who still is suffering from disorientation, will visit a neurologist Monday.
Stafford dressed just eight players Friday night. With two of the eight temporarily hobbled during that game, Butler looked down his bench at one point and saw just one able body. As it turned out, a deep bench wasn't necessary in the 72-32 win over James Wood. Junior guard Angie Mathis doubled her season scoring high with 20 points, and had seven assists, and sophomore guard Becky Johnsen added a season-high 13 points.
"Right now, basketball is the lowest priority on the totem pole," Butler said. "It's so far away from what's important."
* The Brentsville boys are without leading scorer Justin Thomas. The senior guard missed the team's most recent game, a 59-43 loss Friday at Strasburg, because of a mouth injury he sustained by bumping a Liberty player's head during a game Dec. 30.
Thomas received eight stitches that have since been removed. He expects to return to the lineup Friday against Clarke County. The Tigers play a nondistrict game Tuesday against Potomac Falls.
Thomas, averaging 18.1 points, scored a season-high 26 in the game in which he was hurt.
Osbourn junior guard Kristie Carroll, injured in the season opener, returned three games ago, and this week scored 17 points against Hylton. But just four Eagles scored in that game, which also was the case in one of the games Carroll missed. The Eagles girls are averaging just 25.8 points.
Osbourn's offensive output should increase considerably if the team can cash in on close-range shots. Coach Barry Sudduth said the Eagles missed 12 attempts in the paint in the first half alone in a 65-19 loss to Potomac last month.
Headed into last night's game against Fauquier, Osbourn had lost two games by two points--35-33 to Fauquier and 23-21 to Stonewall Jackson.
MCI Put on Hold
Because of scheduling difficulties and expenses, the Emmanuel Christian boys team turned down a chance to play Highland two nights ago at MCI Center. The Flames' boys and girls teams had played Highland there two years ago in the first high school games played at the new arena.
Emmanuel Coach Allan Edgar, whose team already had a game scheduled for Friday night at Wakefield Country Day, said his school would have been required to sell at least 250 tickets at $30 apiece, both steep numbers.
"We'll look at it another year," said Edgar, who, given advance notice, might organize a summer fund-raiser to defray the cost of tickets.
Two years ago at MCI Center, the Emmanuel girls lost to Highland and the Emmanuel boys beat the Hawks in preliminaries to an NBA game between the Wizards and Charlotte Hornets. The year prior, Emmanuel teams played Seton at US Airways Arena.
BY THE NUMBERS
Ties (five) and lead changes (10) in the first half of Potomac's 84-80 double overtime boys victory at Gar-Field.
Ties or lead changes in the second half of Potomac's win at Gar-Field.
Scoring plateau reached Thursday night by Emmanuel Christian senior guard Kierra Culpeper.
Wins so far this season for the Stonewall Jackson girls. From the 1994-95 season through last season, the Raiders won just three games.
Jernavis Draughn, Potomac
Justin Thomas, Brentsville
Vince Love, Brooke Point
Aaron Andrews, Gar-Field
David Hooper, Gar-Field
Maurice Watkins, Woodbridge
Melvin Allen, Brooke Point
John Horton, Osbourn
Hugh Parker, Stafford
Rudy Kelly, Stafford
Mark Cunningham, Potomac
Ahmad Brooks, Hylton
Joe Lane, Osbourn
Jovan Ragland, Stonewall
Joaquin Jackson, Gar-Field
Anthony Jones, Potomac
Kenny Irby, Hylton
Aswad Hinton-Lee, Osbourn Park
Jeremy Levesque, Evangel
Kenny Leatch, Evangel
Matt Pophin, Emmanuel
Gary Williams, Emmanuel
Pat VanderWoude, Seton
Josh Daniel, Seton
Jon Levesque, Evangel
Tish Hogan, Stonewall
Kia Manuel, Gar-Field
Kimisha Dabney, Potomac
Nikki Bowman, Stonewall
Michelle Barnes, Brooke Point
Abbey Cunningham, Brooke Point
Nikki Wells, Gar-Field
Kanee Booth, Woodbridge
Megan Vrabel, Stafford
Shanna Hylton, Stafford
Christina Carmon, North Stafford
Vanessa Massie, Gar-Field
Jennifer Felder, Potomac
Staci Lingo, Evangel
Katy Hadro, Seton
Megan Patrick, Emmanuel
Kierra Culpeper, Emmanuel
Mary Spicer, Seton
Janette Freitas, Evangel
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
* Emmanuel Christian senior forward Matt Pophin and Seton senior guard Josh Daniel totaled 55 and 53 points, respectively, in leading their teams to three wins this week. Emmanuel has now won five in a row. Seton's victories snapped a four-game losing streak.
* Stafford junior forward Jean Cornwell posted her two highest-scoring games of the season with 18 and 13 points in wins over Albemarle and James Wood as the Indians ran their unbeaten record to 8-0 despite key injuries. Cornwell scored more than half her team's points in the Albemarle game.
Woodbridge vs. Potomac
Woodbridge and Potomac fans will not have to divide their loyalties next weekend. The boys teams play Friday night at Potomac and the girls teams play Saturday night at Woodbridge.
Most Cardinal District boys and girls varsity games take place simultaneously at opposite sites.
The Woodbridge boys took two out of three games from Potomac last season after losing 12 of the previous 13 games in the series. The Potomac girls have not beaten Woodbridge in more than eight years.
Word of Life at Emmanuel Christian, 6:30
North Stafford at Potomac, 7:15
Stonewall Jackson at Hylton, 7:15
Gar-Field at Osbourn Park, 7:15
Osbourn at Woodbridge, 7:15
Seton at Bethlehem Baptist, 7:15
Brooke Point at Fauquier, 7:30
Manassas Park at Rappahannock, 7:30
Potomac Falls at Brentsville, 7:30
Colonial Forge at Fredericksburg Christian, 6
Seton at Bethlehem Baptist, 6
Hylton at Stonewall Jackson, 7:15
Osbourn Park at Gar-Field, 7:15
Woodbridge at Osbourn, 7:15
Potomac at North Stafford, 7:30
Fauquier at Brooke Point, 7:30
Stonewall Jackson at Stafford, 7:30
Stafford at Stonewall Jackson, 7:15
Maryland School for Deaf at Quantico, 6:45
Maryland School for Deaf at Quantico, 5:30
Independent at Heritage Christian, 4
Tabernacle at Evangel Christian, 6
Woodbridge at Potomac, 7:15
Osbourn Park at Stonewall Jackson, 7:15
Osbourn at Gar-Field, 7:15
Clarke County at Brentsville, 7:30
Quantico at Randolph-Macon, 7:30
Shenandoah Valley Chr. at Emmanuel Christian, 7:30
Seton at Fredericksburg Christian, 8
North Stafford at Stafford, 8:15
Colonial Forge at Brooke Point, 8:15
Tabernacle at Evangel Christian, 4:30
Shenandoah Valley Christian at Emmanuel Christian, 6
North Stafford at Stafford, 6:30
Colonial Forge at Brooke Point, 6:30
Seton at Fredericksburg Christian, 6:30
Stonewall Jackson at Osbourn Park, 7:15
Gar-Field at Osbourn, 7:15
Tabernacle at Heritage Christian, 11 a.m.
Notre Dame at Seton, 6
Hylton at King George, 7:15
Brentsville at Potomac Falls, 7:30
Tabernacle at Heritage Christian, 11 a.m.
Notre Dame at Seton, 4:30
Potomac at Woodbridge, 7:15
Hylton at Woodbridge
Quantico at Shenandoah Valley
Seton at Colonial Beach
Evangel Christian at Tabernacle
Fauquier at Osbourn
O'Connell 43, Seton 23
Quantico at Shenandoah Valley
Evangel Christian at Tabernacle
CAPTION: Potomac's Jernavis Draughn dunks the ball during the Panthers' 84-80 double overtime victory against Gar-Field on Friday night. Draughn scored 29 points.