"We shot 25% for the game, 15% from three. You can't win shooting like that....especially against a good team."
Those were the wise words of Henrico head coach Vance Harmon in the wake of his Warriors' defeat in today's 5A Boys State Basketball Championship Game, 54-42 to the Potomac Panthers. Potomac won their second state title with the victory.
The difference between today's Potomac win and their 70-64 overtime win at Henrico December 28th in the Henrico Holiday Hoops Classic Final was George Mason commit Trey Porter. Porter used his 6' 9" frame to disrupt the Warriors' offensive flow, while blocking six shots, two of them coming on what would have been momentum-changing Henrico transition baskets.
Porter finished with 18 points, leading scorer for Potomac, and four rebounds to go with the six blocks. Randall Haynes and Xavier Laws each had 11, Laws with key back-to-back baskets, one for three, for the Panthers to end the third quarter at 44-34. The Warriors never got within six points again.
De'Monte Buckingham led Henrico with 18 points and 7 rebounds, but had to deal with foul issues the entire game, picking up his third early in the third quarter, his fourth with 7:22 left in the fourth quarter. He fouled out with 1:58 to go.
Matthew Wallace had a tremendous game for the Warriors, with 13 points and 12 rebounds, five of them offensive. Overall, Henrico actually outrebounded Potomac 37-32, 20 of those 37 on the offensive boards.
But Henrico's inability to put the ball in the basket was the difference-maker. The Warriors were 5-for-33 in the second half, an abysmal 15.2%. They finished 13-of-54, 24.1%, for the contest.
"We went to the free throw line more than they did, but at the end of the day, we've got to hit some shots," Harmon exclaimed. "We were throwing some bricks out there."
Ryan Pearson struggled, shooting 1-for 12, Walter Williams was 1-for-8, Marquis Johnson 0-for-3.
Buckingham and Pearson both agreed with their coach when he proclaimed the loss a "setback" for the team, but how the game would not define his young team, and that they would return.
"This team lost eight graduating seniors, four starters from last year. I told the guys, these particularly (pointing at Pearson and Buckingham) that I could not be more proud of how they led this team. We had a lot of unique pieces to this puzzle," Harmon said.
Buckingham summed up the game succinctly.
"We came together as a team and tried to get the big win," Buckingham said. "But we couldn't do it. They came together as a team, too."
The Warriors finish at 21-7, with back-to-back championship game appearances. They will lose seniors Claude Clarke, Jordan English, Wallace, Nick Buckingham and Tony Daniels.
Buckingham, just a sophomore with multiple Division I offers including Virginia, Virginia Tech, VCU and Richmond in the state alone, and Pearson, a junior, will return, along with Williams, Tristan Bazemore, and Marquis Johnson.