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Panthers capture fourth straight region title

The Potomac Falls Panthers celebrate their region four-peat following a 63-53 win over Millbrook in the Region II Division 4 championship game Feb. 23 in Sterling.—Times-Mirror Photo/Greg Nash
A 13-2 run in the second quarter brought Potomac Falls back into it, and an 11-2 run in the fourth quarter sealed it as the Panthers defeated Millbrook, 63-53, in the Region II Division 4 boys basketball championship game Feb. 23 over in Sterling.

The win nets the Panthers their fourth consecutive regional crown, a fact that fills Panther coach Jeff Hawes -- the only head boys' basketball coach in school history -- with pride.

"It was my dream 16 years ago to build something the community could be proud of. It hasn't just been me -- it's been a ton of great people, players and parents and coaches," said Hawes, glancing up at the gym's banner proclaiming his program's many championships, another of which now has to be added.

The outcome of the region title match was in doubt until the midpoint of the last quarter, when senior guard D'shawn Shorts' deep 3-pointer followed by six straight points from sophomore forward Wanya Allen gave the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish.

Potomac Falls' characteristic man defense stepped up its intensity and limited the Pioneers' quality looks in the final frame.

"We knew they were going to come in here and give us all that we wanted," said Hawes of Millbrook, who earlier in the tournament upended Briar Woods in Brambleton. "Through the first three quarters we weren't playing particularly well and they had a lot to do with that."

Next up for Potomac Falls is a state quarterfinal date with Chancellor on March 2, 2:45 p.m. at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax.

Potomac Falls 63, Millbrook 53

PF: Thomas 19, Allen 18, Shorts 7, Fischetti 4, Janowski 4, Mologne 4, Orbe 4, Barton 3

M: Culbreath 16, Deneal 10, Brooks 6, Bruce 6, Harrell 5, Baylor 4, Trexler 4, Russell 2

Halftime: Potomac Falls 32, Millbrook 31

3-pointers: PF 1 (Shorts); M 5 (Culbreath 2, Deneal 2, Harrell)

Free throws: PF (14 of 19); M (16 of 18)

-All photos by Greg Nash

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