Vikings win battle of district leaders

WOODBRIDGE — After his players dismantled the area’s top-ranked team on Friday night, Woodbridge boys basketball coach Will Robinson made a statement that seemed to make no sense.

But to anyone who has seen this Vikings’ team, which never trailed in a 54-38 home victory over Potomac, the comment might barely merit a chuckle.

“We’re not as bad as people think we are and we’re probably not as good as people think we are,” Robinson said.

Capping a week that included an upset loss to Stonewall Jackson and an easy win over Brooke Point, Cardinal District leader Woodbridge improved to 12-5 as senior guard Jeffrey Allen scored a game-high 19 points. The Vikings gained a regular-season split of Cedar Run District leader Potomac, which is 12-4 after losses to Hylton and Woodbridge.

Potomac was playing without starting center Eric Sidberry and two reserves, all of whom missed a pregame meeting and the team bus. The three players were on the bench in street clothes while Woodbridge stifled the Panther offense.

“Our offensive execution wasn’t there,” Potomac coach Kendall Hayes said. “We took a number of forced shots and had a lot of bad looks on the offensive end.”

Woodbridge held the Panthers to 15-of-49 shooting (30.6 percent). The Vikings began the game in a triangle-and-two defense with the attention focused on Potomac sophomore guard Bryan Butler and sophomore forward Jason Flagler, a tandem that was held 18 points below its average. Flagler, a 16-point-a-night scorer, finished with only one field goal and four points.

Allen, sophomore guard Daniel Fountain (12 points), senior center Tyrice Watkins (10 points to go with a team-high seven rebounds) and junior forward James Prince (10 points) each scored in double figures for Woodbridge.

“I think we set the tempo today,” Allen said. “They backed up a little bit. They weren’t as aggressive as they usually are, and we just played real hard today.”

On the Vikings’ first possession of the game, Allen made a three-pointer from the top of the key — his first of three successful shots from three-point range. Ian Sumers, who led Potomac with 13 points, responded with a basket. But then Prince scored on a baby hook shot and Fountain made a three-pointer from the left wing to put Woodbridge up, 8-2.

The Panthers stayed within 19-18 until Watkins converted two baskets (on a jumper and a tip-in and Chris Kendall came off the bench to make a three-pointer.

Potomac tried to pick up the defensive pressure in the second half as Sumers drew an early charging foul on Watkins. Still, Woodbridge pushed the lead to 30-18 on a pullup jumper by Fountain and two free throws from Watkins.

By the time Woodbridge scored the first eight points of the second half, it led 50-28. Potomac’s Hayes said his team fared better against the triangle-and-two than the rest of Woodbridge’s defenses, but nothing seemed to work for a Panther offense that was averaging an area-best 69.1 points per game.

“We threw a little junk at them — a triangle and two and a soft man-to-man,” Robinson said. “And I thought we took care of the basketball and did a great job offensively.”

Freshman Andre Bratton played point guard on occasion in the first half, helping Allen get going. By the second half, Allen played almost exclusively at the point as Woodbridge protected its lead.

“It’s not very often you hold Potomac to the 30s,” Robinson said. “My hat goes off to our kids for coming back after Tuesday’s loss.”

Woodbridge, 3-0 in the Cardinal District, continues its six-game homestand with a game against Osbourn Park on Tuesday night before returning to district play against Forest Park on Friday night. Those same nights, Potomac plays at Forest Park and at home against Osbourn.

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