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Burrell sparks Potomac (Va.) in win over Gar-Field

Friday night’s Cardinal District opener between the boys’ basketball teams at Potomac (Va.) and Gar-Field was the type of game where a singular moment never occurred.

There was just one lead change and nobody made a late comeback.No one shot was crucial in the 14th-ranked Panthers’ 64-51 win.

The closest thing to a pivotal sequence came in the first half of the second quarter when Potomac began to pull away, thanks to senior point guard Justin Burrell.

With his team ahead 13-8, Burrell drilled a three-pointer 12 seconds into the second frame and later converted a steal into a coast-to-coast basket, prompting a Gar-Field timeout with 6:45 left with Potomac ahead, 20-10.

“I [like to] let my offense come from my defense,” said Burrell, who finished with a game-high 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including a 3-of-4 mark from beyond the arc. “I played aggressive on defense and it led to me playing aggressive on offense. It was also good to get a couple easy baskets in transition, and that really helped my offense.”

Potomac would increase its lead to 31-18 at the break, with Burrell scoring 10 of those points.

Besides Burrell, Potomac benefited from forward Jordan McCain, who posted 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting. While forced to defend Gar-Field’s Jeremiah Johnson (team-high 14 points), McCain was a force inside and collected a game-high eight boards.

“The perimeter kids control the ball and he cleans up the miss,” said Gar-Field Coach Andy Gray, whose team dropped to 4-1 overall, 0-1 in district play.

McCain missed three of his first four shots but didn’t shy away from the opportunity to shoot.

“I don’t even think about my shots because I know I can shoot,” McCain said. “I know it will come eventually.”

There are several known commodities with Potomac’s team, Burrell chief among them. Same with Andrew Cornwell, who finished with eight points and five rebounds; same for Hayfield transfer Tayron Gibson, who added six points and four rebounds.

Now adding McCain into that conversation might not be a bad idea, making the Panthers (3-0, 1-0 Cardinal) ever deeper than we had originally though. Let’s ask Potomac Coach Keith Honore whether he was surprised with McCain’s output.

“That’s not surprising to me at all, and people shouldn’t be shocked to see it happen again,” said Honore, whose team will host Stonewall Jackson on Saturday. “One of the advantages that I think we have as a team is that we have so many different ways to score offensively.”

For Gar-Field, the loss kicked off a difficult early-season stretch. While the Indians are young and trying to “figure things out,” they also face a three-game set that features meetings with Potomac, Freedom-Woodbridge and Forest Park, all league rivals and all favorites -- along with Gar-Field -- to finish near the top of the Cardinal.

“We have three league games in December, and that’s not good,” said Gray, whose team entered Friday night’s contest toting wins over Stonewall Jackson, Greensville, King William and Osbourn. “With a team this young, three league games early are not ideal. We’re just going to continue to work and do the best we can with the hand we’re dealt.”

Besides Johnson, Corey Bonds finished with six points for Gar-Field and Justin Pittman had 10 and two rebounds.

By Jason Mackey  |  December 11, 2009; 10:40 PM ET
Categories:  Boys' Basketball , Cardinal District , Gar-Field , Northwest Region , Potomac (Va.)  
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