Briar Woods' defense held Stone Bridge to two first quarter points, essentially the difference in the game.

Briar Woods takes Potomac Title over Stone Bridge, 43-34

The Briar Woods Falcons have rolled this season, only losing one game, none in the Potomac District. They were expected to beat third-seeded Stone Bridge at home Friday night in the Potomac District Tournament Championship and did, 43-34.

Though the Falcons have larger postseason goals, that didn’t mean the game wasn’t a significant accomplishment. The Falcons had only beaten the Bulldogs by single digits in their first two meetings and on this night Briar Woods was without its senior point guard, Tia Chen, the school’s all-time leading assist leader. Chen was out after rolling an ankle on Wednesday.

“Without Tia today we knew that there was a huge hole that we had to fill, and we just told ourselves that we needed to be accountable and everybody had to step up,” said Raven Short, Briar Woods’ Head Coach.

Right from the start, Short’s veteran team seemed locked in, especially on defense. Briar Woods held Stone Bridge scoreless for most of the first quarter, taking a 9-2 lead. All Short’s team allowed was a Sravya Janapati transition basket in the entire quarter. Falcons tall forward Noelle Cabiness anchored the defense, rejecting shots in the lane from the Bulldogs and clearing rebounds.

Noelle Cabiness pulled down 15 rebounds, and anchored the Briar Woods defense down low.

“Our focus was on the glass,” said Short. “They’re a great team with great shooters and great speed. I knew that we have a little bit of a height advantage and we had to exploit that if we wanted to be successful.”

The Falcons (23-1) did, with Cabiness and fellow seniors Hope Drake and Avery Maltese guarding the paint, scoring inside, and helping to win the rebounding battle. However, Stone Bridge stabilized things and stayed within striking distance through the second and third quarters. Down 33-24, a 7-2 fourth quarter Bulldogs run capped by an Addie Hafer three-pointer made things interesting.

That’s when Briar Woods’ experience brought home the victory. The Bulldogs made the mistake of fouling Drake, who was just coming off a 50-in-a-row made free throw streak. Up 37-31, Cabiness rejected a Stone Bridge shot and secured the rebound. Drake was again fouled to make it 39-31, and after the Bulldogs again failed to convert on offense, Drake found Giuliani Bohmer in transition to bring the lead back up to double-digits.

There were some anxious moments late for the Falcons, especially without their stabilizing point guard, but the immediate business was finished.

“Big atmosphere, big environment, I just wanted to make sure I played my role,” said Cabiness, who finished with 15 rebounds. “Going forward [in the playoffs] I think we have to obviously continue what we’re doing, it’s obviously working. As we continue to play harder and tougher teams moving forward we just have to execute plays.”

“Our defense was really good this game. That’s going to play a big role going forward.”

Hope Drake (15 points, five assists) is not the person you want to foul late in games.

Offensively, as is often the case, Drake led the way with 15 points and five assists. Efficient senior wing Sienna Casillas added eight points and Bohmer seven points. Stone Bridge (18-6), which also advances to regionals next week, was led by Janapati’s 12 points and Hafer’s three second half three-pointers.

The Falcons’ goal is to advance far beyond regionals, however. That’ll take solid contributions from everybody in the rotation, even when and if Chen returns.

“I really challenged her [Noelle] to step up and take a lot of burden on herself, which she did,” said Short. “She was awesome when we needed her the most…but everybody.”

–Chris Jollay

statistics are unofficial

BOHMER 2-6 2-4  7  3  2
SHIN 1-3 2-2  5  4  2
DRAKE 5-16 4-4  15  3  5
CABINESS 2-6 2-4  6  15  0
CASILLAS 4-7 0-1  8  3  2
Maltese 1-3 0-0  2  3  1
Kancharla 0-0 0-0  0  1  0
TOTALS 15-41 10-15  43  32  12
Threes: Shin 1-2, Drake 1-4, Bohmer 1-5, Cabiness 0-1, Casillas 0-1
STREAKER 0-4 1-2  1  2   2
HAFER 3-6 0-0  9  1   1
RYAN 1-7 0-0  2  6   1
JANAPATI 5-15 0-2  12  5   1
SPIZUOCO 2-4 0-2  4  2   0
Skorupski 0-1 0-0  0  1   0
Suarez 3-11 0-2  6  3   4
Lawyer 0-1 0-0  0  5   1
TOTALS 14-49 1-8  34  25  10
Threes: Hafer 3-6, Janapati 2-6, Streaker 0-1