One at a time, Stone Bridge High School players and coaches took a turn trimming off a piece of the net following the Bulldogs' 88-61 victory over the Potomac Falls Panthers in the Region 5C boys' basketball championship game Friday night in Ashburn.
It was a group effort throughout the process until the final strand was cut. Similar to the team-first mentality the Bulldogs (14-1) have displayed throughout their stellar season.
"They are a team," Stone Bridge second-year head coach Kent Kling said. "They are willing to do something for each other, back each other up. They don't care who succeeds as long as the team succeeds."
Stone Bridge -- who entered the regional tournament as the Potomac District's No. 1 seed after claiming the district's season title -- jumped out to a 16-4 lead in the regional final and led by no less than eight points the rest of the game.
A total of 11 Bulldogs scored in the decisive victory, including two players who were recently called up from the junior varsity squad. Junior Jacob Thomas nearly posted a triple-double with 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
Sam Whitehead also scored 17 points for Stone Bridge, while Dylan Hundertmark netted 16 points to go with seven assists. Dominic Duncan scored 10 points -- all in the second half -- and Cole DeVido added nine points and six rebounds.
"They don't care who scores ... that's a good thing," Kling said of the balanced scoring effort. "They get doubled, they kick it to someone. They are happy for each other."
Potomac Falls -- the Potomac District's No. 4 seed -- entered the game playing its best basketball of the season. The Panthers defeated J.R. Lewis 73-41 in the regional quarterfinals and topped Briar Woods 62-55 in the semifinals to advance to the final.
Despite falling behind by 12 points early, Potomac Falls (8-9) was able to remain within striking distance until late in the third quarter. The Panthers pulled within eight early in the second quarter and trimmed a 19-point deficit to 14 with a quick five-point surge early in the third quarter.
Stone Bridge would respond with a 22-11 run during the final five-plus minutes of the third quarter to take a 25-point advantage into the fourth.
Potomac Falls also received balanced scoring, with 12 players entering the scorebook. Senior Jacob Mancuso paced the Panthers with 11 points. Kyle Ables scored 10 points and Rico Brown added nine.
Stone Bridge will play at Region 5D champion Patrick Henry (Roanoke) in the Virginia Class 5 state semifinals Feb. 17. The state final is set for Feb. 20.
"We just need to keep calm and play our game," Whitehead said of the Bulldogs' mindset entering the state tournament.
Stone Bridge 88, Potomac Falls 61
PF: Mancuso 11, Ables 10, Brown 9, Apietu 7, Copeland 6, Delaney 5, Carrillo 4, Farah 4, Jackson 2, Adegbenro 1, Miles 1, Plunkett 1
SB: Thomas 17, Whitehead 17, Hundertmark 16, Duncan 10, DeVido 9, Hart 5, Faulk 4, J. Limcaoco 4, Zabel 3, Hafer 2, K. Limcaoco 1
Halftime: SB 37-20
Free throws: PF 16 of 22; SB 10 of 18
3-pointers: SB 5 (DeVido, Hart, Hundertmark, J. Limcaoco, Whitehead); PF 3 (Apietu, Brown, Delaney)