By Kevin O’Rourke
Both boys basketball teams from Germantown high schools will begin their playoff marches as the five seed in their divisional brackets.
Seneca Valley won the 3A West Division championship with a division record of 12-2, but is forced into the fifth seed for the playoffs by what Seneca Valley’s Athletic Director, Jesse Irvin called a “state violation of a residency issue.”
As a result the team was penalized and had to forfeit the first four victories of the season. The tournament seeding is based on overall records. Seneca Valley finished the season with an overall record of 12-8, but due to the penalty loss of the season’s first four wins, the team’s official record is 8-12. The change gives the top seed in the 3A West Division to Einstein High School which has an adjusted record of 12-10-1. The penalty reverses a January 7 Seneca Valley victory over Einstein.
Once the violation became known, the issue was self-reported to the MCPS Office of Athletics by Irvin and Seneca Valley Head Coach Brian Humphrey. “It was not the fault of the school, student athletes, or coaches,” said Irvin.
Seneca Valley’s players were told of the forfeited victories earlier in the season. “The student athletes handled the news with pride and honor and went out and won the majority of the games after that,” said Irvin. “We are extremely proud of the way they handled it. They won on the court and they know what they are capable of. They are aware of the low seed and are moving forward, knowing it doesn’t matter where the games are played, they have to beat the teams they are told to play.”
As a result, rather than being the top seed, with a first-round bye and second round home-game, the Screaming Eagles will travel as a fifth seed to play 9-12 Rockville at 7:00 pm on Friday to begin their march to State Championship.
Northwest on the other hand, is right where they should be based on their record, and the Jags are playing with a chip on their shoulders.
The Jags are a fifth seed and are ready to turn up the heat on the 4A West Division as they travel to Clarksburg to play the Coyotes at 5:15 pm on Friday. Northwest has proven that they are team to be reckoned with this season, as they have taken some of the top teams in the 4A Division down to the wire but came up just short of wins.
“The plan going into [the playoffs] is one game at a time,” said Northwest Head Coach Robert Smith. “You can’t look past any opponent in the playoffs. Clarksburg is a very talented team and well coached. We will make changes where we need from the last time we played, but still play our style of game.”
The 10-11 Jags split the season series with Clarksburg, beating the Coyotes at home on senior Jamar Wilson’s miraculous seven points in 30 seconds. Clarksburg goes into Friday’s game playing very good basketball and riding a five-game win streak including a 51-40 victory over the Jags.
“I expect a very hard fought game by both teams,” said Smith. “Clarksburg made it very far last year and we recognize that, but we do plan on showing the county we deserve to play with anyone.”
If Northwest can get past Clarksburg, they will face the top seed in the 4A West Division, 18-3 Magruder.
Top: Seneca Valley's Triston Price (12) drives the lane during the Screaming Eagles 59-53 victory over Rockille on Feb. 3. Seneca Valley will play at Rockville on Friday.
Next: Northwest's Jamar Wilson (3) during the Jag's 69-67 victory over Clarksburg on Jan. 16. Northwest will play at Clarksburg on Friday.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.