By Devon Ashby
Special for The Sentinel
POTOMAC – While it is still early in the high school boys’ basketball season, but Potomac High School put together a strong 85-71 win over Northwestern High School on Dec. 13 to earn its second straight victory to open the new season.
It was a back-and-forth affair early as the two squads exchanged several missed shots before ultimately converting. Potomac broke open the scoring first, jumping out to a 7-4 lead and adding more points while maintaining a three-point advantage.
Wolverines forward Jordan Beckett and guard Duane Mason were visibly active early in various ways. They drew fouls, scored points and dished out assists as Potomac began to create more separation in their lead late in the first half.
With about 3:58 remaining in the second quarter, the home side took over after a failed trip to the free-throw line turned into a 13-4 run and that extended Potomac’s lead by five points. Mason connected on multiple 3-pointers, and guard Corey Dyches provided a thunderous dunk off a steal which fired up the crowd. Potomac continued their attack into the end of the quarter, taking a 40-30 lead into halftime.
“We couldn’t get into a rhythm early,” Potomac Head Coach Renard Johnson said. “Our guys like to score in bunches; we may not score for a while and then run off, like, 18 straight.”
“I thought we prepared well for their defensive schemes,” Northwestern Head Coach Terrance Burke said. “One of our best players, Marquise Delahaye, has a bad first half where he couldn’t score, and he checked out mentally, and I think we also let them do what they wanted to do and got outrebounded in the first half, but we’re still only down 10 points.”
In the second half, Potomac once again started slow, allowing Northwestern to creep back into the game and cut their lead down to six points following an 8-4 run. However, Potomac woke up, scoring seven straight points to balloon its lead back up to 13 (51-38). The 3-pointers continued coming in the second half, with contributions from all over, as Potomac found itself up by 22 points at the end of the third, 64-42.
Dyches led the way; he scored in almost every way, including two thunderous dunks, en route to 21 points, and added a few assists as well.
“They knew what kind of an athletic team we were, and they were closing in, so I just made sure to get it out to the shooters,” Dyches, a University of Maryland football commit said. “We’re very athletic; we’re all guards on the floor, so no one can stop us when we’re at the best of our game.”
As for his dunks, Dyches smiled and said, “I can jump out of the gym. When they step back, it’s only right to raise up.”
In the fourth quarter, Potomac saw contributions from several people, in particular Dyches, Jordan Beckett and Miquel Beasley, who provided several buckets late in the second half. Beckett, a power forward, knocked down several key shots in the second half as part of a 12-point performance and provided some key assists and defensive sequences.
“My teammates just got me a lot of great looks (tonight),” said Beasley, who finished with 10 points. “We work on these shots in practice, knocking them down, getting shooters open, moving the ball around the paint and trying to get easy buckets.”
“We need to work on help defense and helping one another out when someone gets beat by the ball-handler,” said Dyches. “It’s the simple things, the little things that contribute to wins.”
With the win, Potomac (2-0) remains undefeated, but the players say that they aware of the issues that need to work on as the season progresses. Defensive communications and turnovers were two things that Northwestern attacked that Potomac must fix as they prepare to encounter Potomac Senior High School of Dumfries, Virginia in the DMV Tipoff Classic on Dec. 21.
“We’ve just got to pass the ball more and communicate more on defense,” Beasley said.
“Sixty percent of my rotation was just playing football Saturday for the state championship, so technically we’ve only had our team together for four days,” Johnson explained. “I think a lot of this stuff will clean itself up as the season goes along, and guys start to get more familiar with each other.”