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Lions just can't cross Potomac

March 12, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Smiles are rare after losses, but Walkersville was able to hold its heads up high despite a 59-50 loss to Potomac in the Maryland Class 2A boys state semifinals at Comcast Center on Friday.

The Lions held an early eight-point lead, lost the advantage and still had a chance for victory with less than two minutes remaining before time ran out on the season, while Potomac (26-0) escaped to today's state championship game.

"We played our hearts out today," said Walkersville coach Bruce Zimmerman. There weren't many in the stands who would challenge that statement, no matter what side they sat on.

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"We were pushed to the brink with (Walkersville)," said Potomac coach Rico Reed. "I was impressed with them and I was impressed with No. 31 (Chris Hannigan). Their shooting at the beginning caught us off guard."

Several of Potomac's assistant coaches were heard mumbling about how physical Walkersville was against the Wolverines after the game.

"There weren't many that gave us a chance to win, or even being close," said Zimmerman. "I think we gained a lot of respect from our effort tonight."

The effort started with Hannigan, who scored 19 points despite hobbling on a gimpy right ankle. It continued with Luther Weedon and his 18 points as the two combined for 14 of 27 shooting from the floor. Brandon Geppert played despite a banged chin and slightly twisted left ankle, Jabari Brown had a cut on his arm and Shaynon Thompson had a cut lip.

It was all in a day's work against a Wolverine team that included 6-foot-8 Dante Cunningham, who will attend Villanova, and 6-5 Bobby Shannon. Both were ineffective early as Walkersville charged to a 20-15 lead.

It was orchestrated by Hannigan and Weedon, each drilling a pair of 3-pointers in the first five minutes as the Lions opened up a 16-8 lead.

Potomac's quickness - which worried Zimmerman - began to bother Walkersville in the second period. The Lions clinged to a 22-17 lead but turned the ball over three straight times, leading to Potomac scores.

Guard Donald Kirk, one of Potomac's Division I probables, hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 26-26 with 3:26 left in the half. Bruce Mountain scored to give Potomac a 30-29 lead and the Wolverines never looked back.

"We averaged only 10 turnovers a game and we had 19 tonight," said Zimmerman. The turnovers led to 27 points for Potomac.

Walkersville used a trey by Weedon and a bucket by Thompson to get back within 46-43 at the end of the third quarter. The Lions had three chances to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but failed each time.

"We felt good early with the lead," Hannigan said. "We really gave them a game and my hat is off to my senior teammates."

"We've got certain styles of play by certain players we have," said Reed. "In the end though, i don't think there is a more determined team in the state of Maryland that wants to win than us."

Geppert, who along with Hannigan had five rebounds, thought it was the toughest game of the season.

"This was the most physical game ... You're playing against a kid going to Villanova and two others to Division I," Geppert said.

Shannon led Potomac with 20 points and Cunningham added 16 and the Wolverines outrebounded Walkersville, 37-27.

"I thought the turnovers and the rebounding were the two keys," Zimmerman said.

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