West Potomac is known -- and feared -- for its run-and-gun style of basketball. But the fifth-ranked Wolverines showed a little defensive wizardry last night as they disposed of Mount Vernon, 77-55, in Alexandria.
West Potomac Coach Bill Engels said the Wolverines suffer from the Denver Nuggets syndrome. "When you play a fast-paced game, the other team gets twice as many shots and the defense gets overlooked," he said.
Going into the game, the teams had been tied for the Gunston District lead with 4-1 records. The Majors defeated West Potomac in the district opener after losing to it in the final of a Christmas tournament. But the league records are a little deceiving because the Wolverines now are 15-1 overall and the Majors are 9-8.
Also deceiving is Mount Vernon's height advantage. The Majors have a pair of 6-foot-8 post players in Brian Brunson and Tracy Butts. The tallest West Potomac player is Leon Blakeney at 6-3.
But Blakeney, along with teammates Demond Chesson and Stacy Harris, play a fierce man-to-man defense and help each other on the weak side at all times. Last night, the three limited Brunson to 11 points and Butts to three.
"They're all so quick," said Engels. "They really get off their feet quick. It's not that they get higher, they just get off the floor so quick."
They're also quick to the ball, forcing the Majors into nine first-quarter turnovers and 18 for the half. Blakeney had four first-half steals.
The result was an 8-0 lead that became 14-2 and then 18-7 by the end of the first quarter.
"The second time we played them, we just didn't have the intensity," said Engels. "Our defensive intensity was the key tonight. I felt like we dictated the game from start to finish."
Danielle Richardson started the first-quarter barrage with a short jumper. Blakeney made his first steal and dunked it, and 50 seconds later he made a layup and was fouled by Jeremy Nelson. Blakeney missed the free throw, but Richardson hit another shot for an 8-0 lead.
Derek Williams scored for the Majors, but Avis Willis, who is the Northern Region's leading scorer, retaliated with an eight-foot baseline jumper.
Richardson had been hanging back on defense and took a long pass for an easy layup, and Willis took in a nice pass from Matt Browne to make it 14-2.