Panthers ride Flagler’s hot hand


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DALE CITY — Jason Flagler switched uniform numbers heading into this Potomac basketball season, but he found a way to honor his old number Tuesday night.

Flagler, the reigning Cedar Run District most valuable player, scored half of the Panthers’ points in a season-opening 66-48 victory at Gar-Field. After wearing No. 33 for a Group AAA state semifinalist team a year ago, Flagler now has a zero on his back. His scoring ability, though, remains intact.

“I was excited from the get-go,” said Flagler, a 6-foot-4 junior. “Gar-Field’s a big rival for us. Tonight I just felt the vibe from my teammates. We wanted to come out and have fun.”

Gar-Field, which made the state final in 2001 and finished in a tie for second in the Cardinal District last year, challenged the Panthers into the second half Tuesday night. The Indians scored the first five points of the third quarter — on a pull-up jumper by Dee Howard and a 3-pointer by Chris Vann — to take a 30-28 lead.

But Flagler scored 19 of his team’s next 26 points as Potomac built a 56-36 lead with 6:03 left in the game.

Last season, Flagler averaged 14.8 points per game. Tuesday night, he had 14 points at the half and 25 entering the last eight minutes.

As Potomac pulled away with a 19-4 run in the third quarter, Flagler scored in a variety of ways. He followed his own shot and added a free throw to give the Panthers a 31-30 lead. Then came a 15-foot jump shot; a layup off a Germain Williams assist; a basket on an inbound pass from Eric Hayes; and a turnaround jump shot after a steal by Anthony Mills.

For Gar-Field, junior guard Vann led the way with 21 points. Senior forward Howard chipped in with 10 points, but was hampered for most of the night because of foul trouble. Howard scored eight of his points in the first quarter and fouled out just 17 seconds into the fourth quarter.

The Indians held a 16-12 edge after a period, but Potomac managed to gain a three-point halftime lead at 28-25 as Mills scored on a layup and Flagler made two free throws to close the first-half scoring.

In the second half, Flagler and the Potomac pressure took over the game. The press “worked very well,” Flagler said. “It better. We’ve practiced it every day since November the 11th. Hey, it’s got to work.”

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