CHARLOTTESVILLE — A strong second half from West Potomac made the difference against Nelson County in the quarterfinals of The Daily Progress Holiday Hoops Classic on Friday night.
Colby Dessaure scored six of West Potomac’s first eight points after the break as the team from Alexandria downed the Governors, 66-56, at Charlottesville High School.
The inside presence of Dessaure and Jack Fricka proved to be too much for Nelson to overcome as the Wolverines repeatedly scored on second and third opportunities with solid offensive rebounding in the second half.
“The second half, we wanted to impose our size inside,” West Potomac coach David Houston III said. “Well, we wanted to do it the whole game, our big guy was in some foul trouble the first half, but we got him in the second half for extended minutes and that was to our advantage.”
Despite the quick start, Nelson pulled to within two points in the third period after back-to-back 3-pointers from Brice Wilson and Mason Hughes.
West Potomac responded with a 17-2 run that bridged the third and fourth periods and generated a 17-point lead for the Wolverines that Nelson was unable to erase.
George Brown scored six points for Nelson in the final quarter as the Governors trimmed the lead to single digits before the Wolverines set the final margin.
The game began as a tight back-and-forth contest with Dessaure in foul trouble and on the bench most of the first half. West Potomac held a five-point lead by the end of the first quarter after five different players scored in the opening stanza. Fricka, Leon Cooper and Adrien Hunter each had four points during the period for the Wolverines.
“That’s a major emphasis of our team,” Houston III said. “We want to try to get in transition and test teams' back part. We don’t have a lot of height but we got some guys that are active and pretty strong inside, so that’s the emphasis and we were able to get to that in the second half.”
After falling behind by seven points early in the second period, the Governors stormed back behind the leadership of Houston Carter. The senior scored eight consecutive points during the frame, sandwiching a pair of free throws around two long-distance buckets. A pair of shots in the post along with a bonus free throw capped a 13-5 run by the Governors and helped them regain the lead with just under three minutes remaining in the first half.
West Potomac quickly regained the lead before a transition score off a steal by Carter drew the two teams even. West Potomac took the advantage at the break, however, when senior guard Bradley Harden hit a 3-pointer as the clock ran out, setting up the explosive second half for the Wolverines.
“We started out slow in the third quarter,” Governors coach Brian Wilson said. “I thought we played a good game, we started out slow and it took us a while to get back into it. I think we played a good game on defense and when we got into foul trouble that was a disadvantage to our kids.”
Fricka led all scorers with 24 points. Brice Wilson led Nelson with 17 points, while Carter added 11 for the Governors.
With the win, the Wolverines will face Charlottesville in the Holiday Classic semifinals at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday at Western Albemarle High School.