Eagles Top Rams in Playoff Thriller
By Kevin O’Rourke
Seneca Valley went into the Rockville gym knowing that it was all wrong. They weren’t supposed to be there. They were supposed to be home with a first round bye waiting to play a home game in the second round. However, a violation of a residency issue forced the Eagles into the fifth seed.
The Eagles knew they earned better than a fifth seed, and if they wanted to continue on to that second-round playoff game, they’d have earn it even if it was to be a road game.
They also knew that earlier in the year, they lost Rockville at Rockville by a bucket. And that the always raucous Rockville crowd would be in full throat on Friday night.
“I feel like this whole season we have been overcoming adversity,” said Seneca Valley Head Coach Brian Humphrey. “These kids have been through so much.”
After a first-quarter saw both teams, who split earlier meetings based on home court advantage, feeling each other out and Rockville leading 12-10, Seneca Valley began to build momentum.
The Eagles turned up the defense in the second quarter holding Rockville to just six points, while scoring 12 in the quarter to lead at halftime 22-18.
After halftime, Seneca Valley began to turn up the head and scored 18 points, getting offense from everyone on the floor and opened up a nine-point lead on the Rams by the time that the quarter ended.
With 2:50 remaining in the game Seneca had extended the lead and were up 52-41. The next two minutes would test Seneca Valley. Rockville began to put together a points run, thanks in large part to their ability to make foul shots. The Rams attempted 19 foul shots in the fourth quarter and converted 14 of them..
The Rams sent Seneca Valley shooters to the line for 22 shots, but the Eagles only converted 15 of them. Overall Seneca Valley shot 65 percent from line. Rockville was a little better shooting, 71 percent from the foul line.
Offensively, Seneca Valley turned in a complete team win with five players in double digits, led by junior Quentin Twyman’s 14 points. He was followed by Mathew Kareem with 13, Dejuan Smith with 11 points, and Brandon Simpson and Will Craig had 10 points apiece. Freshman guard, Triston Price finished with seven points and was five-for-six from the line.
Rockville’s Ben Wiebusch’s 16 point fourth-quarter kept the Rams in the game. He was six-for-six from the line in the fourth, two field goals, and hit two huge three-pointers. He would finish with a game high 18 points, going eight-for-eight from the line.
Thanks in large part to Wiebusch, Rockville was clawed back to within three points of the lead with under one minute left to play, which sent the Rockville fans into a frenzy. With 57.5 seconds remaining, Rockville’s Rakeem Hoy-Farria was fouled and made two free-throws to bring the Rams to within one, 55-54.
The Eagles would fend off the attack and extend the lead again on a two fast break baskets, one by Brandon Simpson and one by Kareem Mathew.
Seneca led 59-56, and Mathew would be fouled with 28 seconds remaining, and would sink both from the line to extend the lead to 61-56.
The teams would trade fouls and foul shots for the next 25 seconds, and Seneca Valley would lead 63-61 with 3.2 seconds remaining.
It would be Quentin Twyman on the foul line, after missing one of two foul-shots just seconds earlier, with the Rockville faithful in full-throat behind him, with the game, the season, and the playoffs on the line. The junior would step up and sink two free-throws to give the Eagles a 65-61 lead and the victory.
“Rockville is one of the better crowds in 3A,” said Coach Humphrey. “For guys who are underclassmen to step up and make big free-throws is pretty impressive.”
“We spent a lot of time of the defensive game plan,” said Humphrey. “We let up there a lot on the end and they were furiously coming at us in the fourth. I am proud of the guys. They toughed-out another one. They made the plays at the end and made the big free throws. I am just proud of them they never quit. Even when you see some of the mistakes we make because we are a young team, we threw the ball away a couple of times, but we didn’t panic. We stayed with it and got the victory.”
The Screamin’ Eagles will move on and have to face “top seeded” 11-10-1 Einstein High School on the road on Tuesday, March 3 at 7:00 pm. Seneca Valley beat the Einstein Titans in the regular season 71-62 and 62-58. However, one of the victories was ruled a forfeit due to what Seneca Valley’s Athletic Director, Jesse Irvin called a “state violation of a residency issue.”
The forfeit then gave Einstein the top seed in the playoffs and first-round playoff bye, which Seneca Valley earned on the court.
Top: Quentin Twyman shoots free throws to put the game away as the Rockville crowd applies the pressure.
Next: DeJuan Smith flys for two of his 11 points.
Next: Kareem Mathew with a jumper.
Next: Will Craig lays in two of his 10 points in the Seneca Valley victory.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.