West Potomac faces Western Branch in state tournament quarterfinal Friday

All-region guard Khalil Williams-Diggins, center, is one of five West Potomac seniors playing in the state tournament for the second year in a row.

When West Potomac walks on the court against Western Branch in the first round of the Virginia 6A boys basketball tournament, they’ll see a squad with a lot of similarities. 

Like the Wolverines, the Bruins are an athletic squad with good size inside. Western Branch uses full-court pressure and to try to force turnovers for quick transition baskets, something the Wolverines can also do with devastating effectiveness.

Western Branch (19-8) rode that style all the way to the 6A South Region championship game, where they fell to Landstown.

“Athletic, young guards … good height inside … [they] want to get up and down quickly to score,” West Potomac coach David Houston III said of the Bruins.

West Potomac and Western Branch will tip off around 9 p.m., the final of four 6A quarterfinal games at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax (see map). For West Potomac (25-4), who finished third in the 6A North Region, it’s the second trip in a row to states. Last year the Wolverines fell to Woodside in the quarterfinals. 

It will be tough for any school in this year’s tournament to out-athlete West Potomac. The Wolverines possessed perhaps the North Region’s best mix of size, speed and strength. They also feature four players — seniors Khalil Williams-Diggins, Brandan Lisenby, Da’Jon Bellfield and Da’Juan Bellfield — who were all-district selections on West Potomac’s 9-3 football team. 

Williams-Diggins, who earned 1st team all-region honors as a point guard and was also the Patriot Conference tournament MVP, will play a key role in breaking the Bruins’ full-court press. He said West Potomac learned from last year’s state tournament that every potential opponent is going to be elite. What can give this year’s Wolverines a chance against anyone, Williams-Diggins says, is West Potomac’s physical style.

“An advantage that we have that can give us an edge against teams is our ability to run and our ability to play defense,” said Williams-Diggins. “We are a very athletic team.”

Notes: The winner of the West Potomac-Western Branch game will play the winner of the Madison-Hylton quarterfinal game Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at Robinson. The state final will be March 11 at the Siegel Center in Richmond.