Perfect Panthers: Potomac girls move to 6-0

WOODBRIDGE — The first-half scorebook for the visiting Potomac Panthers resembled something like this: Five field goals, 19 points and a lot of missed shots.

In the second half, the Panthers went to work on the boards to help overcome a seven-point deficit to beat host Hylton, 53-47.

Center Erika Dabney scored all eight of her points in the fourth quarter, several on putbacks, and freshman guard Jameka Smith had seven of her team-high 11 points in the second half as the Panthers improved to 6-0 on the season.

Jasmine Byrd had 13 points to lead the Bulldogs (4-1).

“We thought we were going to able to just out-jump them,” Hylton coach Melvin Smith said. “They’re taught day-in and day-out to put a body on somebody and they didn’t. They [Potomac] got the rebound because they got the position.”

“I think we have some of the best rebounding guards in the county,” Potomac coach Mike Adkins said. “Jameka Smith does a great job of getting to the ball, Stephanie [Adkins] always knows where the ball is and is always going after it. I thought Erika did a great job of keeping us in the ball game late with a couple of key baskets, a couple of key rebounds.”

Potomac’s offensive rebounding stood out in particular late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter. The first two field goals of the fourth came on second-efforts and gave the Panthers their first lead of the game.

Down 35-33, Smith grabbed a loose ball in the paint, made a short jumper and was fouled. She missed the subsequent free throw but Dabney collared the miss, converted on the shot and was fouled to give the Panthers a 37-35 edge.

Dabney missed the free throw but the Panthers would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way. Hylton did make game interesting, though.

After another stickback by Dabney gave the Panthers a 45-37 lead with 4:40 left, the Bulldogs crawled to within 45-41 on a two free throws by Byrd. Potomac eventually put the lead back 50-44 with 1:03 left in the game However, a free throw by Star Allen, a missed free throw by Smith on Potomac’s next possession and two more freebies by the Bulldogs’ Kimberli Hoston sliced the deficit to 50-47 with just over 30 seconds left.

But the Panthers managed to hold on to the ball against Hylton’s full-court pressure and converted on 3 of 4 free throws to ice the game. The last two came from Stephanie Adkins with 11.8 seconds left..

Smith, along with Lashura Johnson, who scored her only points on two clutch jumpers in the second half, helped make up for the absence of starting guard Sierra Garrison and a gimpy Alexis Martin. Garrison will more than likely be out of the Potomac lineup until at least mid-January with a severe ankle injury. Martin, who scored just two points, played with a banged-up knee.

“I have confidence in any of the kids I throw out [there],” coach Adkins said. “Every game somebody has stepped up and done something for us.”

“I had a lot of support from Sierra,” Smith said. “I was asking her questions about how to get my rhythm. She helped me a lot when I was sitting out on the bench. It was just team ball today. They found me and I got it.”

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