Potomac pressure pops Atholton, 79-70

March 05, 1994|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Special to The Sun

Atholton's game plan in a Class 2A, South Region semifinal yesterday consisted of overcoming Potomac's sizable height advantage.

But the No. 18 Raiders were not fully prepared for the quickness and rebounding aggressiveness that Potomac deployed.

As top seed and host Atholton bent under unexpected pressure, fourth-seed Potomac earned a 79-70 win and a spot in today's championship against Surrattsville, a 73-58 winner over Glenelg in the other semifinal.

Potomac (17-7) of Prince George's County, using 6-foot-8, 295-pound William Peters, 6-6 Matt Brown, 6-1 Patrick Williams, and a host of other scrappy players, out-rebounded Atholton, 57-36. The Braves hit only 33 percent of their shots, but converted numerous offensive rebounds into points.

"Their height wasn't a real big deal," said Atholton 6-4 forward D.J. Chiles, who scored a game-high 28 points. "We just didn't do as good a job as we should have boxing out. Height doesn't mean anything if you give position."

After closing the first half with an 11-1 run for a 33-25 lead, Potomac led thereafter. The Braves, benefiting from Williams' 27 points, Peters' 17, and 16 by 6-2 guard Melvin Watson, built a 17-point third-quarter margin.

But Atholton (16-7) chipped away on points by Chiles and guard Tyrone Allmond, as well as forced turnovers. Brown also sat down after committing his fourth foul, and Matt Treese's three-pointer pulled the Raiders to 67-64 with 2:30 remaining.

They came no closer down the stretch, however. Williams scored seven points and Potomac made 8 of 12 free throws en route to seeking its third straight regional title.

"Peters took up a lot of space, but Chiles did a great job for them," Potomac coach Taft Hickman said. Atholton (16-7) opened in a zone defense to neutralize the height advantage, remaining close as the lead changeds 12 times in the first period. The period ended with Potomac ahead, 17-16, on Joe Cannady's buzzer basket.

Potomac, which hit only eight of 23 shots in the first 12 minutes, missed its first six in the next quarter, as Atholton went up, 21-17. The Braves regained the lead, but Tony Stewart's three-pointer put the Raiders back in front, 24-22.

But Hickman then went to a half-court trap with five quick guards on the floor. The Raiders had trouble advancing the ball upcourt, and had eight turnovers in the period. The Braves parlayed the successful pressure into easy points during what would be the game's crucial sequence.

"I don't know if it was so much the quicker lineup or the second shot attempts," Atholton coach Jim Albert, denied his fifth trip to regional finals, said of the momentum swing. "They were quicker to the boards than we were."

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