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The Loudoun Report: girls basketball

Panthers looking to crash the party
Heading into the season, the Dulles District looked more top heavy than ever. With two defending state champions in Freedom and Loudoun County looking to make runs at a repeat title and several other teams hit hard by graduation, the rest of the league was an unknown quantity of which little was expected.

But six weeks into the season, one team with veteran experience and momentum left over from a strong finish to the 2008-09 season is still very much in the mix. At 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the district, the Potomac Falls Panthers are right in the thick of things and don't plan on going away anytime soon.

"I feel like the consensus before the season started was that there were only two teams in our district -- Freedom and County," Potomac Falls Coach Lynn Ewald said. "We want to show those two teams, the rest of the district and schools around the area that there are three teams in our district."

Ewald began his tenure at Potomac Falls four years ago, essentially entering the fray as a freshman alongside his current crop of seniors. Three freshmen made his first varsity roster, and now Raven Short, Symone' Berry and Jasmin Jefferies are the top three contributors on Ewald's best team yet.

Short, a 5-9 wing player, leads the team with 15.3 points per game and scored a season-high 28 in a 78-62 loss to Loudoun County on Monday. According to Ewald, Berry "is the glue" that holds the team together, averaging 12 points a game on the perimeter. Jefferies, who along with Berry is a four-year starter, anchors the post and is closing in on the school's all-time rebounding record.

"Each year they realize it's getting closer and closer to the end," Ewald said. "When they came in they were just happy to make varsity as freshmen, but going into our off-season, I think they realized if they didn't get to work now, they were going to miss out on a great opportunity. That sense of urgency is there now and that extra motivation to get over the hump."

Last season, Potomac Falls entered March with a meager 4-12 record and a 2-8 mark in the district. But after a 31-point blowout loss to Freedom, the Panthers strung together five straight victories to close out the regular season. The 9-14 record was by far the best in Ewald's tenure.


Brittany Batts scored 30 in a win over Potomac Falls on Tuesday. (Tracy A. Woodward, TWP)

Monday, Potomac Falls led defending AA Division 4 state champions Loudoun County 49-36 at halftime. But they managed just 13 total points in the second half and let their grip on a share of first place in the district slip away.

"In years past, I think we had played that game hoping to stay close," Ewald said. "We talked about it going in, that's not what we wanted to do. We were expecting to win that game.

"Everybody has been patting us on the back, and saying, 'Hey, you were close in that game.' But I think the feeling among our girls is that that's not good enough. We wanted to win that game and we're disappointed that we didn't. It proved to ourselves that we can compete."

The Panthers get their next shot to prove they belong in the upper echelon of the league Thursday when they host No. 15 Freedom. The Eagles, who have not dropped a district game since the 2007-08 season, have won their past four meetings with Potomac Falls by an average of 23 points.

"County is going to get you with speed and shooting and Freedom is going to get you with size and physical play," Ewald said. "It's a different game plan. Fortunately we've had a couple days of practice to prepare for them and we're looking to go out and compete."

Batts ties three point record
Loudoun County junior guard Brittany Batts tied her own school record for most three-pointers in a game Tuesday, connecting on 8 of 12 long-range attempts in a 73-41 win against Loudoun Valley.

The leading scorer in the Dulles District poured in a season-high 30 to lead the Raiders (10-2, 3-1) to a fourth straight victory. Since a 75-61 set back against Edison at the Pohanka Chantilly Holiday Tournament, County has scored at least 71 points in all four of its contests. They host Broad Run Thursday and visit Briar Woods Wednesday before a rematch with Freedom in Leesburg next Friday night.

Standings

Dulles District
------------------------------League-----Overall
1. Freedom------------------5-0----------10-2
2. Loudoun County--------4-1-----------10-2
3. Potomac Falls-----------3-1-----------7-3
4. Broad Run---------------3-2-----------7-5
5. Park View----------------1-3-----------3-9
6. Briar Woods-------------1-6-----------4-8
7. Dominion-----------------0-5 ----------0-13

Cedar Run District
------------------------------League-----Overall
1. Loudoun Valley---------2-0-----------7-4
1. Stonewall Jackson-----2-0------------9-2
3. Heritage------------------1-1-----------2-7
4. Osbourn-----------------1-2------------3-9
5. Battlefield----------------0-3-----------1-9

Liberty District
------------------------------League-----Overall
1. Madison------------------4-1-----------6-6
1. Langley-------------------4-1-----------5-6
3. South Lakes-------------3-2-----------9-4
3. Stone Bridge-------------3-2----------9-3
3. Fairfax--------------------3-2-----------7-5
6. McLean-------------------2-3-----------7-6
7. Thomas Jefferson------1-4-----------3-9
8. Marshall------------------0-5-----------6-7

The week ahead
Wednesday
Briar Woods at George Mason, 7:30
Dominion at Handley, 7:30
Liberty at Chancellor, 7:30

Thursday
Loudoun County at Broad Run, 6
Park View at Dominion, 7:30
Potomac Falls at Freedom, 7:30

Friday
Briar Woods at Martinsburg (WV), 7:30
Loudoun Valley at Stonewall Jackson, 7:30
McLean at Stone Bridge, 7:30
Osbourn at Heritage, 7:30

Saturday
Washington-Lee at Park View, 7
Loudoun Valley at Washington (WV), 7:30

Tuesday
Freedom at Riverdale Baptist, 7
Loudoun Valley at Heritage, 7:30

By Matt Brooks  |  January 13, 2010; 5:36 PM ET
Categories:  AA Dulles , Girls' Basketball , Loudoun County High School , Potomac Falls  
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