Three months ago, three of Potomac's top basketball players suffered broken legs in a car accident. Seniors Robert Butts and Deveran Ashe are recovering well and could play later this season. Junior Kevin Powell will probably wait until next year.
The Braves certainly could have used any of the three talented players last night in their season opener at Largo. The much-improved Lions outscored Potomac, 11-3, in the final three minutes and earned a tough, 66-61 victory in a Prince George's nonleague game.
Largo junior center James Bryson was the hero of the evening, leading all scorers with 19 points. He also had nine rebounds and blocked two shots, one of them in the deciding moments.
Bryson's layup broke a 61-61 tie with 1:07 left and proved to be the game-winning points. In between Braves misses, all from the three-point range, Ali-Bey Bright (17 points) sank a free throw and made a game-ending layup to assure the Lions of the win.
"Those three-pointers change the complexion of the game," Largo Coach Charles Anderson said. "They hit a couple of those and got right back in the game."
Each time Largo built a slim lead, the Braves came back on the strength of a three-point goal. Potomac made five of 13 three-point attempts. Paul Curtis (15 points) made three three-point goals in the second half, two of them coming consecutively to cut Largo's 47-39 lead to two points with a minute left in the third period.
The teams traded baskets until Potomac gained its final lead, 58-55, on a pair of free throws by Curtis with 3:23 left to play. Largo then hit its stride while the Braves came unglued.
"We had a couple of breakdowns near the end but the kids came back and played well," Anderson said.
Bryson was a factor in the stretch, with his big basket, a block of a certain layup and two big rebounds. Lawrence Bell's layup gave Largo a three-point cushion, 61-58, but Curtis sank his third three-pointer of the night to tie the game with 1:18 left.
Bryson then made his basket, Potomac missed on its next two trips down court and the game was over.
The Braves jumped out to a 6-0 lead before Bryson scored eight quick points, Lenny Myers made two three-pointers and Brandon Samuel had six points as the hosts ran off a 21-5 spurt to take a 21-11 first-period lead.
Potomac cut the deficit to 35-30 at intermission, 49-48 after three periods and eventually took its 58-55 lead on the strength of six straight points by Charles Simpson. But Largo, which according to Anderson, has the potential to be one of his best teams in his nine years as head coach, rallied to win.