2023.02.22 Boys Basketball: VHSL Region 5D Quarterfinal, Albemarle @ Potomac Falls

Potomac Falls, VA (February 22, 2023) - In the end, the joyous Potomac Falls Panthers fans swept across the gym floor and engulfed their team already dancing in a mob of their own. The dejected Albemarle Patriots walked slowly off the court, a spot in the regional semifinals was in their grasp, and now it wasn't. The Panthers would move on instead.

Chas Sumser Photography was there to capture the action and emotion and posted a gallery of images from the game.

The whip-fast Patriots led for most of the first quarter, but, in a role he would play throughout the night, Joshua Prince led a late rally to put the Panthers ahead as the period ended, 12-11.

Momentum shifted multiple times in the second quarter, but this time the late surge belonged to Albemarle. With Ben Wesson and Carter Wesson contributing crucial shots from behind the arc, the seventh-seeded Patriots held a surprising, but well-earned lead at halftime, 30-24. The near-capacity crowd of Panthers faithful were a bit stunned while the Patriot fans behaved like the current score was exactly what they had expected.

After the break, Prince scored a quick basket, and it seemed like the second-seeded Panthers were ready to roll until Patriot Christian Humes took charge and willed his team to a commanding lead midway through the third quarter, 38-28. But Matthew Larner (for three) and John Opiola (for two) hit late baskets that brought the margin back to where it was a halftime. As the period ended, Albemarle led 44-38.

The pace of the final period was furious. Potomac Falls cut into the lead, but Albemarle matched the Panthers basket for basket. The difference increased to seven points with 2:17 remaining, but James Delaney sank a crucial three-pointer and the comeback was on. With 0:22 remaining, Sean Pandelides split the Albemarle defense for a layup, and suddenly the Panthers had the lead, 53-52, for the first time since the end of the first quarter. 

But the Patriots were not quite done yet. With 0:11 remaining in the game, Ben Wesson calmly sank both ends of a 1-and-1 to put Albemarle back in front, 54-53. 

Potomac Falls had plenty of time to score, and everyone on the court and in the stands knew who the Panthers would go to. As he had all night, Prince came through with the big basket, slicing through three Patriot defenders to lay it off the glass for the win. Albemarle had a desperation shot to try, but it fell short and the purple and black celebration began.

Final Score: Potomac Falls 55 - Albemarle 54 

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