Broad Run’s Khiorie Stewart sliced through two Potomac Falls defenders and into the lane, creating enough space for the senior to elevate for a layup midway through the third quarter of Friday’s game. But the opportunity was thwarted when the ball wedged itself between the rim and the backboard, resulting in a jump ball and ultimately, a Potomac Falls possession.
Stewart and the Spartans had their chances to claw back into the contest, but each time the Panthers — with one key assist from the basket — thwarted their efforts. With physical play and several key runs, Potomac Falls kept Broad Run’s high-octane offense stuck in neutral to claim a 65-52 win in Ashburn and snap the Spartans’ 13-game winning streak.
With the outcome of the teams’ last meeting — a Jan. 11 defeat at the buzzer — as well as its two other one-point losses still fresh in mind, Potomac Falls channeled its energy into an early 12-4 lead, stretching Broad Run’s zone defense with sound perimeter shooting.
“We had a lot to prove tonight after what happened in the first game and coming off another loss this week,” Panthers guard A.J. Robinson said. “We had a lot of motivation but we also made sure to play within ourselves and stay in control.”
The Spartans (14-2, 5-1 in Conference 14) roared back in the second period, however, with Travis Fulgham throwing down a dunk that sparked Broad Run to a 9-0 run and knotted the score at 22.
With Potomac Falls suddenly going cold from the outside, Wanya Allen afforded his team second and third opportunities with active play on the offensive glass. After the junior scored off one of his 13 rebounds, the Panthers ended the half on a 7-0 run that spilled into the third quarter.
“We knew we had to come to play strong, and I tried to make my mark by getting on the boards inside,” said Allen, who finished with 12 points.
Consecutive threes by Stewart and Justin Hart again cut into the Potomac Falls advantage, but the Panthers (14-4, 3-3) refused to be rattled. Matt Tierney, who missed the teams’ first contest with a concussion, made a big three from the corner and scored seven of his 12 points in the third quarter to push the Panthers’ lead back to 10.
Potomac Falls frustrated Stewart — who came into the game averaging 18.8 points — by shadowing him with two players in a zone defensive set. The senior swingman finished with 13 points.
“Coach [Jeff Hawes] always talks about how we’re at our best when our defense is strong,” Tierney said. “We played a lot more physical and forced them to stay on the perimeter with our pressure.”
As the tempo slowed in the second half, the Panthers maintained their advantage by getting to the foul line, hitting 15 of 22 free throws.