Gar-Field dominates Potomac


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WOODBRIDGE Gar-Field didn’t look like an underdog Thursday night as it claimed the school’s second Group AAA, Northwest Region boys basketball championship in three seasons.

The Indians, retooled since finishing second in the state in 2001, cruised to the regional championship with a 71-51 win over Potomac in a game played at Woodbridge High School. After sprinting out to an 11-0 lead in the first 3:08, Gar-Field kept its double-digit cushion for the remainder of the night despite foul trouble from four starters.

“We got that lead and just had to hang on,” Gar-Field coach Andy Gray said. “[Potomac] had to overextend and our kids finally got the concept of passing ahead of the pressure, and we got some layups.”

By winning, Gar-Field (18-8) gets to return to Woodbridge’s gym for Saturday’s 7 p.m. state quarterfinal against Highland Springs. Meanwhile, Potomac (21-5) has to travel to Central Region territory to meet George Wythe, the team that knocked the Panthers out of the state semifinals by 20 points a year ago. The Potomac-Wythe game will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday at James River High School in Chesterfield County.

In the regular season, Potomac beat Gar-Field twice for the second straight year. Yet Thursday night’s matchup turned out to be the Panthers’ largest defeat to a fellow Prince William County team since an 85-62 home loss to Gar-Field on Feb. 9, 2001.

“We had lost to them twice, so we knew we had to give a little more effort,” said Gar-Field senior forward Kirsten McCane, who scored 10 of his career-high 17 points in the first-quarter surge. “Last time we played them [a 52-48 loss at home on Jan. 24], we had a lot of close games and we couldn’t pull them out. Now we feel like we can pull them all out.”

Following baskets from point guard Chris Doss and shooting guard Chris Vann, McCane scored the next seven points in the game-opening run. First, Doss stripped Potomac’s Eric Hayes of the ball and drove to the basket before finding McCane for a layup. McCane later made two free throws and converted on a basket and free throw off another Doss assist. Doss finished with 13 points and four assists.

The Panthers failed to make a field goal in the entire first quarter, falling behind 18-3. By halftime, they were 5-for-25 from the floor and down 32-16. With 2:44 left in the first half, Gar-Field had led, 30-8.

Potomac stayed cold in the second half, going 3-for-20 in the third quarter and finishing the game at 23.8 percent (15 of 63). Earlier this week, the Panthers won at Albemarle on Monday and beat Woodbridge at home on Wednesday to earn a return trip to the state quarterfinals.

“We did what we could do, but if you can’t make shots you can’t win games,” Potomac coach Kendall Hayes said. “We had a big problem physically, playing a third game in four days. I think I can attribute [the poor shooting] to their good defense and to us not having any gas in the tank.”

Jason Flagler, the Panthers’ junior forward who scored 33 and 14 points in the first two Gar-Field games this year, didn’t make a field goal until 1:22 was left in the third period. He finished with 11 points, while junior guard Bryan Butler scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter.

“I couldn’t find the rim,” Flagler said. “When I got the ball, I was getting triple-teamed. They just had a swarming defense and we couldn’t get it going on offense. We played lackadaisical. We couldn’t even shoot free throws. It was sad.

“I could sense in warmups that we didn’t have that fire, and as one of the captains I should’ve said something. All of us, including me, need a whole new game plan Saturday. We need to be sharp on everything.”

Gar-Field would be happy to continue its level of play. The Indians have won five in a row and 10 of 11 since their second loss to Potomac.

“This dates back to my freshman year,” said Vann, who scored a game-high 22 points Thursday night but played sparingly during the 2001 postseason. “It feels the same. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we keep doing what we need to do.”

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