Potomac was smaller than its opponent, George Wythe of Richmond, in last night's Virginia AAA quarterfinal at James River High in Midlothian, but the Panthers did not let that deter them from driving into the lane for shot attempts.
The Panthers hit several baskets from inside -- and added six three-pointers -- but in the end Wythe's 6-foot-9 center Shawn Taggart and 6-4 forward Anthony Greene were too much in a 61-54 Bulldogs victory.
Wythe (26-2), the Central Region champion, advanced to Friday's 7 p.m. state semifinal against South Lakes at the Vines Center in Lynchburg. For the second straight year, the Bulldogs ended Potomac's season; last year, Wythe defeated Potomac (21-6) in the state semifinals.
Potomac's starting five averages just under 6-1, while Wythe's averaged just more than 6-4. But Potomac didn't wither. Junior Bryan Butler (19 points) and freshman Eric Hayes (8 points) hit early three-pointers to give Potomac a 10-4 advantage.
"We're not real big, but that doesn't mean we have to be scared," said Potomac Coach Kendall Hayes, whose team was making its sixth state appearance in nine years. "We weren't going to back down.[Our players] think bigger than they are."
Wythe came back behind Taggart (12 points, 7 rebounds), Greene (16 points) and Gregory Edwards (15 points). In the fourth quarter, Wythe got the ball inside to them, and they were often fouled. The Bulldogs hit nine free throws down the stretch.
Potomac had won its last five Virginia AAA quarterfinal games.
Trailing by four, Gar-Field tried to rein in Highland Springs last night by holding the ball for about 41/2 minutes late in the third quarter, but there was no stopping the Springers, who in the fourth period blazed to a 50-33 win over the Indians in a Virginia AAA quarterfinal at Woodbridge.
"When we scouted them, and when we walked out on the floor tonight . . . it looked like The Abominable Snowman vs. Frosty the Snowman," Gar-Field Coach Andy Gray said in reference to the superior size of the Springers, who scored a school-record 131 points in their Central Region quarterfinal win. "If we could shorten the game and limit the number of possessions, then maybe we have a chance going down the stretch. But if we run up and down the floor with them, eventually. . . . Frosty can't beat The Abominable one."
Highland Springs (25-3) held Gar-Field junior guard Chris Vann to 10 points, less than half his season average and tying his season low. Indians senior guard Chris Doss scored a season-high 19 points.
Gar-Field (18-9), which lost in the state final two years ago, won 10 of its last 12 games.