OXON HILL – After only scoring four points in the first half, Potomac point guard Jason Newman was finally getting into a shooting rhythm. With the energy of the home fans demanding a show against Gwynn Park on Feb. 15, the senior wanted to continue his offensive production while providing the audience a first-class experience. […]
OXON HILL – After only scoring four points in the first half, Potomac point guard Jason Newman was finally getting into a shooting rhythm. With the energy of the home fans demanding a show against Gwynn Park on Feb. 15, the senior wanted to continue his offensive production while providing the audience a first-class experience.
The five-foot-ten Newman collected a loose-ball, ran toward the basket and elevated for a two-handed dunk. A slight pause consumed the gym, watching the ball ping around the rim before it sunk inside for two points. The intensity returned and Newman, with his hands in the air and a smile on his face, demanded more of it.
“It was electrifying hearing the crowd chant when I dunked it,” Newman said. “It was my first dunk in four years, so it was a fun night.”
The senior finished 19 points, one of four players to score in double-figures. The Potomac boys basketball squad finished their regular season on a high note, defeating the Yellowjackets 90-68. It was Potomac’s eighth-straight victory and their 11th win at home.
Newman’s spirited 15-point second half effort is not a new thing, according to Head Coach Renard Johnson. It was only a matter of time for his captain to start making his shots, a trait that Johnson saw early on in his development as a player at Potomac.
“(Newman) was about five-foot-one in the ninth grade and I said, ‘that young man will be my point guard in the future,’” Johnson said. “To see it come from that little 13-year-old to a 17-year-old seasoned senior, I cannot even express how much I am going to miss him next year.”
Potomac (20-2) was unable to connect early on open-shot opportunities, missing several three-point attempts. However, they exploded into a 15-0 run to end the first quarter up by 11. They continued the offensive pressure in the second quarter, scoring 17 points in the first five minutes. Senior Isaiah Funderburk shot three of his team-high five three-pointers, leading all scorers with 11 points before halftime.
“All season, we play in spurts,” Johnson said. “Because we have a lot of depth, we try to play our opponent down and get two of those 12 or 15-0 runs and build from that.”
Gwynn Park (11-11) took the barraging Wolverine attack and attempted to reduce the lead by going on a 10-3 run in two minutes before halftime. After the break, the Yellowjackets continued to fight thanks to the play of seniors Shawn Slade and Craig Morrow. Morrow finished with a game-high 22 points while Slade scored nine of his 14 points from behind the arc.
However, Potomac was too much to handle. The high-pressure defense all game created five steals that turned into easy points. Meanwhile, four players finished scoring in double-digits, including senior Emmanual Doby, who scored 11 of his 19 points in the second half. Junior point guard Sincere Jones scored three-straight field goals in the dying moments of the fourth quarter to solidify the victory for the Wolverines.
“This team listens a lot more,” Johnson said. “We know we didn’t have the size as last year’s team had or teams in the past had so they relied on the coaches more and were very coachable and playing as a unit. They have done better than some of my other teams in the past.”
Potomac basketball’s success does not just extend to their varsity side as their junior varsity team finished their third consecutive undefeated season when it defeated Gwynn Park earlier in the day, 65-53.
While some fans in attendance were excited about the future, the focus on correcting wrong from their past, Johnson said. Last year, Potomac lost the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) State Championship by a point against Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Johnson hopes to channel his players’ energy to make another run at the title this year.
“It felt good to get the win and finish off our season strong,” Doby said. “We took a tough loss last year in the state championship last year, and we are looking to get back there this year… if we play team defense, we should be back.”