Now that I’ve had a few days in the warm Ft. Lauderdale sun to digest the weekend’s games and take a quick look at the state playoff brackets, it’s time to take a deep breath and talk for a little while about both.
First, let’s review and discuss Friday night’s results and their implications:
In the stunner of the evening, Wootton went to Blake and beat the Bengals in double overtime 75-72. What is most striking about the result is not the manner in which they won, but how the three key ingredients to Wootton’s success blended together, and what makes that success the reason Wootton is the ultimate wildcard in the playoffs:
- Ryan Trafton tallied 21 points, and that is a critical statistic for Wootton. With Trafton dominating or at least controlling the inside game, something he is quite capable of doing, the outside opens up;
- Jack Weis had 3-3 pointers, as the outside shots became available while Trafton works inside. Weis and the rest of his backcourt mates are sharpshooters, but can’t necessarily make their own shots, so kick-outs from the post are vital, and when they get them and knock them down, watch out.
- Wootton’s defense can be impressive and stifling. Just ask Whitman, a team with a bevy of shooters, who were held down two weeks ago. Wootton’s defense held Carlton Agwu, Ryan Frazier, and Max Hedgepeth to 19 total points in 38 minutes of play. If the Patriots can replicate their effort on Friday night, they can truly play with anyone.
I was lucky enough to cover the Quince Orchard vs Northwest game, and am completely impressed with QO’s team and chances to get to the State Finals. Coach Paul Foringer has every piece of the puzzle he could possibly ask for this season, with incredible depth, size, speed and experience. Northwest played very well for a team seeking to re-establish their identity, and even though Coach Jesse Irvin felt they made too many mental and physical mistakes (26 turnovers is obscene), the fact is they were overwhelmed. It will take a team with considerable skill and, more importantly, discipline, to beat the Cougars.
After the heartbreak of a two-point loss to Springbrook on Thursday, Whitman went to Magruder on Friday night and managed to pull out a 60-55 win over an inspired Colonels’ team. The win says a great deal about Coach Chris Lun’s team; they are resilient in addition to talented, and a legitimate Comcast Center team.
So what does it all mean? Well, on Sunday the playoff draw was held (MPSSAA Boys Basketball Draw) , and Springbrook, Richard Montgomery and Whitman got the top three seeds in the 4A West division. In 3A West, Quince Orchard and Blake obtained the first and second seeds, respectively, while Frederick County powerhouses Linganore and Tuscarora picked up the third and fourth. In the 2A, Poolesville earned a number one with Rockville a number three seed. Congratulations to all the teams.
If form holds, regional final games will be played at Springbrook, Quince Orchard, and Poolesville. But each must navigate possible speed bumps along the way. So stay tuned.
What about some early playoff matchups? Well, I love the B-CC vs Wootton and Paint Branch vs Gaithersburg draws. Wootton and B-CC actually play tonight, so the game set for Saturday will be a third game of the season, with Wootton having won the first game in January. As for Paint Branch and Gaithersburg, Paint Branch won the first two meetings, so they have the edge. A Wootton vs Paint Branch game would be a rematch of a game won in the first game of the season by Wootton, with the winner getting Springbrook, assuming they beat the Magruder vs Northwest winner.
So there you have the (hopefully) better late than never thoughts from the warmth of Florida. And since I’ve been thinking about it, here is the updated Bastow-Best Ten for the week.
- Springbrook: How they managed to come back from a big deficit against a really tough Whitman team is beyond me, but they did, and that is all that matters.
- Richard Montgomery: Cool, calm and collected is how they were on the gameday radio show Thursday night. They know what they have to do, and they go about doing it. This is Coach Scott Spears’ best chance at Comcast Center
- Whitman: Maybe the most dangerous team in the county because on any given night they can just shoot from anywhere at any time and play defense. I’m not sure Springbrook wants to see them again.
- Quince Orchard: A well-oiled machine hitting on all cylinders at the right time. Better bring an oxygen mask if you are the other team, as their all-game long press just wears you out.
- Paint Branch: Why not? They are playing extremely well, having won 5 out of their last 6, losing only to Springbrook over that time. I am sure they want one more rematch.
- Blake: OK, consider me surprised. Did they take Wootton for granted? I don’t know, but that will be the last time Coach Marcus Wiggins allows his team a let down.
- Poolesville: Brendan McFall had 24 vs Seneca Valley to follow up a 20-point effort last time out. Wow are they a different team with him in the lineup.
- Wootton: So far this year they’ve beaten Blake, Whitman, Richard Montgomery, Northwest, and Paint Branch. See what I’m saying? Dangerous.
- Magruder: They’ve clearly lost their mojo, and maybe that is just a function of youth. But I’ll take Tim Harwood in the clutch any time; so do not count them out quite yet.
- Kennedy: And talk about clutch, it appear nobody can stop Angelo Adon.