Depth Triumphs

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."

Injury Report

* 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.

Scoring Troubles

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

15

Ties (five) and lead changes (10) in the first half of Potomac's 84-80 double overtime boys victory at Gar-Field.

1

Ties or lead changes in the second half of Potomac's win at Gar-Field.

1,000

Scoring plateau reached Thursday night by Emmanuel Christian senior guard Kierra Culpeper.

4

Wins so far this season for the Stonewall Jackson girls. From the 1994-95 season through last season, the Raiders won just three games.

SCORING LEADERS

BOYS

PUBLIC SCHOOL

Player, School

Gms.

Pts.

Avg.

Jernavis Draughn, Potomac

9

224

24.9

Justin Thomas, Brentsville

7

127

18.1

Vince Love, Brooke Point

9

150

16.7

Aaron Andrews, Gar-Field

8

129

16.1

David Hooper, Gar-Field

8

123

15.4

Maurice Watkins, Woodbridge

9

137

15.2

Melvin Allen, Brooke Point

10

141

14.1

John Horton, Osbourn

10

138

13.8

Hugh Parker, Stafford

11

146

13.3

Rudy Kelly, Stafford

11

143

13.0

Mark Cunningham, Potomac

9

115

12.8

Ahmad Brooks, Hylton

9

113

12.6

Joe Lane, Osbourn

10

126

12.6

Jovan Ragland, Stonewall

8

98

12.3

Joaquin Jackson, Gar-Field

8

90

11.3

Anthony Jones, Potomac

9

100

11.1

Kenny Irby, Hylton

9

98

10.9

Aswad Hinton-Lee, Osbourn Park

6

64

10.7

PRIVATE SCHOOL

Jeremy Levesque, Evangel

4

105

26.3

Kenny Leatch, Evangel

5

90

18.0

Matt Pophin, Emmanuel

11

188

17.1

Gary Williams, Emmanuel

11

175

15.9

Pat VanderWoude, Seton

15

234

15.6

Josh Daniel, Seton

15

181

12.1

Jon Levesque, Evangel

5

59

11.8

GIRLS

PUBLIC SCHOOL

Tish Hogan, Stonewall

6

104

17.3

Kia Manuel, Gar-Field

9

154

17.1

Kimisha Dabney, Potomac

9

147

16.3

Nikki Bowman, Stonewall

7

104

14.9

Michelle Barnes, Brooke Point

10

125

12.5

Abbey Cunningham, Brooke Point

10

125

12.5

Nikki Wells, Gar-Field

10

124

12.4

Kanee Booth, Woodbridge

10

123

12.3

Megan Vrabel, Stafford

8

98

12.3

Shanna Hylton, Stafford

5

54

10.8

Christina Carmon, North Stafford

7

74

10.6

Vanessa Massie, Gar-Field

9

91

10.1

Jennifer Felder, Potomac

10

100

10.0

PRIVATE SCHOOL

Staci Lingo, Evangel

4

61

15.3

Katy Hadro, Seton

11

150

13.6

Megan Patrick, Emmanuel

7

93

13.3

Kierra Culpeper, Emmanuel

7

89

12.7

Mary Spicer, Seton

11

121

11.0

Janette Freitas, Evangel

4

41

10.3

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.

ON TAP

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.

SCHEDULE

Monday

Boys

Word of Life at Emmanuel Christian, 6:30

Tuesday

Boys

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

Girls

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

Wednesday

Boys

Stonewall Jackson at Stafford, 7:30

Girls

Stafford at Stonewall Jackson, 7:15

Thursday

Boys

Maryland School for Deaf at Quantico, 6:45

Girls

Maryland School for Deaf at Quantico, 5:30

Friday

Boys

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

Girls

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

Saturday

Boys

Tabernacle at Heritage Christian, 11 a.m.

Notre Dame at Seton, 6

Hylton at King George, 7:15

Brentsville at Potomac Falls, 7:30

Girls

Tabernacle at Heritage Christian, 11 a.m.

Notre Dame at Seton, 4:30

Potomac at Woodbridge, 7:15

SCORES

Yesterday

Boys

Hylton at Woodbridge

Quantico at Shenandoah Valley

Seton at Colonial Beach

Evangel Christian at Tabernacle

Girls

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.