Hayfield defense stymies West Potomac as Hawks take Gunston crown

Team picture

The Hayfield boys basketball team poses after defeating West Potomac 48-43.

After an early January loss to West Potomac, Hayfield coach Carlos Poindexter tweeted a simple message: “We will get better.”

He had no idea how right he was.

Poindexter and Hayfield showed they were way past their early season stumbles Friday night, beating top-seeded West Potomac 48-43 to win the Gunston District championship. The Hawks were able to defeat the regular season champions behind an aggressive defense and a clutch second-half performance by tournament MVP Brian Cobbs.

It was not an easy path to the championship. First, the 3rd-seeded Hawks had to take out second seed Annandale on the road. Then they had to find a way to beat the Wolverines — who had swept the regular season series between the two teams — on their own court.  

Cobbs said wins in the Hawks’ final three regular season games and against Annandale in the tournament showed how good the Hawks could be on defense, and had Hayfield coming into Friday’s game feeling confident. 

We were hungry for it,” Cobbs, a senior forward, said afterward. “I feel like nobody can stay with us when we play defense like that and just execute our offense.”

Cobbs finished with 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Cobbs was crucial on D in the game’s hectic final minute, grabbing a critical rebound and sliding over to help make a key stop against West Potomac star guard Daryl Mackey. 

Cobbs on ladder cutting net

Hayfield senior Brian Cobbs, the district tournament’s MVP, cuts down the net after beating West Potomac.

Mackey, the Gunston District Player of the Year, led West Potomac with 15 points — about under 10 fewer than his season average.

Poindexter said trying to slow down the Wolverine junior was the main focus of his defensive strategy, and Cobbs echoed that sentiment, saying the Hawks wanted to cut off Mackey early on his drives to the basket. 

“We knew that we had to contain Mackey and if anybody else got off, we were comfortable with that,” Poindexter said, crediting DeMonte Richardson, Rayjoun Pringle and Jahvon Hutchinson for taking turns on the Wolverine star.

Richardson, a senior guard, also finished second in scoring for the Hawks with 13 points, including Hayfield’s only two 3-pointers. 

Hayfield led at the end of the first and second quarters, but could not break away from the Wolverines. Late in the third quarter, Mackey helped give West Potomac a short-lived lead. First he chased down a fast break and blocked a Hawk shot from behind, igniting the home crowd. Then moments later he sunk a shot to give the Wolverines a 29-28 lead, further driving the West Po fans into a frenzy.

But it didn’t last, thanks to Cobbs. He quickly converted a three-point play to take back the lead, and although West Potomac would tie the game twice more, they could never lead again.

West Potomac junior guard Stanely Adjei finished with 10 points, including a three-pointer with three minutes left to tied the game at 40.

Sophomore forward Daniel Peterson finished with seven points for Hayfield, and was named to the all-tournament team along with Cobbs and Richardson, as well as West Potomac’s Mackey and junior forward Shannon Harrigan.

The win leaves Hayfield with bragging rights after the first year of the new Gunston District, which re-united the Hawks with local rivals West Po and Mount Vernon. Poindexter, who credited practice for his team’s continuous improvement since that early January tweet, reveled in the victory after the game, knowing his team was the first to make its mark in the new district. 

“Now we’ve set a precedent. Everybody’s going to be gunning for us,” Poindexter said. “It’s great for the whole program, the whole area, Lorton, Alexandria, all of [us].”

Note: Hayfield’s girls basketball team fell in the Gunston District championship Friday night against top-seeded T.C. Williams, who did not lose a district game all season.

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