It may have not been all that resounding, or pretty, but it was a victory. And after a hard-fought 68-64 home win over conference foe and seventh-ranked W.T. Woodson, #6 West Potomac remains the team to beat in Northern Virginia 6A.
The Wolverines (3-0, 9-2) came right out of the gate fired up, beginning the game on a 16-5 run. They weren’t just winning, they were doing it through spectacular play that electrified the home crowd. Senior Da’Jon Bellfield had a monster rejection on Woodson’s Nate Spurlock at the rim. 5’11” sophomore guard Daryl Mackey Jr. drove the lane and put down a strong two-handed jam. Bellfield got an alley-oop slam from point guard Khalil Williams-Diggins a few minutes later. The Cavaliers were on their heels.
But at the end of the first quarter senior guard Jason Aigner buried a three-pointer to make it 16-8. Slowly Woodson (2-1, 8-3) started to claw its way back into the game. Coach Doug Craig’s team was able to slow things down and take care of the ball much better against the Wolverines’ press than they did initially. Even more impressively, the visitors drew fouls and got to the free throw line. The Cavs attempted a whopping 21 first half free throws which allowed them to trail by only three at halftime, 31-28.
Woodson cut the deficit to one at a couple junctures in the second half, once on a drive by Simon Mulaa early in the third quarter and once on another three by Aigner early in the fourth. But the Wolverines would never relinquish the lead they held all game. Williams-Diggins (19 points, six rebounds, five assists) drove the lane and attacked the rim almost at will throughout. Mackey Jr. (22 points) caught fire from outside, hitting five of six three-point attempts. Center Idaresit Ekpuk, scoreless in the first half, had eight second half points and controlled the boards all night, finishing with 11 rebounds.
Most of the fourth quarter resembled the first, with the Wolverines forcing turnovers with their press. They also got second and third looks on the offensive glass and eventually extended their lead to double digits. But when it came time for West Potomac to ice the game from the free throw line, there was trouble. At one point coach David Houston III’s team missed eight free throws in a row en route to a 17-40 performance from the line. That’s certainly a concern for West Potomac going forward, but for now the Wolverines are just content to have defeated a team that figures to be one of their top competitors in not only the conference, but the region.
Senior guard Brandan Lisenby added 10 points off the bench for the Wolverines, who travel to face the suddenly up-tempo Lake Braddock Bruins on Friday. Woodson, which can take solace from the fact that it will get at least one more shot at West Potomac, was led by senior guard Brian Peirce and his 21 points off the bench. Junior Matthew Urbach added 19 points and seven rebounds for the Cavs, who will battle Annandale on the road Friday.
stats are unofficial
|Threes: Mackey, Jr. 5-6, Williams Diggins 0-8, Lisenby 0-1|
|Threes: Peirce 2-3, Aigner 2-5, Urbach 0-3, Spurlock 0-1|