With Victory Over Wheaton, Eagles Soar Back to Top Spot in MoCo
By Kevin O’Rourke
Officially it was the No. 5 seed beating the No. 2 seed, and you can could call it an upset. But nobody that has been watching the Seneca Valley boys basketball team would call it that. Seneca Valley vanquished the Wheaton Knights 53-49 today to win the Montgomery County Division 3A title.
In reality, it was the No. 1 seed visiting and beating the No. 2 seed, as Seneca Valley defeated Wheaton for the third time this year. A quirk of the rule book, had the Eagles visiting the Knights and not the other way around.
“This win erases all the seeding penalties and puts us back where we should have been,” said Seneca Valley’s Athletic Director Jesse Irvin after the win. The Eagles were forced to forfeit their first five victories due to a “residency issue” which dropped them into the fifth seed.
Seneca Valley’s coaches, players and athletic director all seemed to shrug off the penalty as “no big deal” but in reality it was a big blow to a program that is trying to crawl back from two very tough seasons.
The penalty forced the Eagles to win three road games against the best of the rest in the 3A Division in Montgomery County. To make this trip to the “3A Elite Eight in the State,” Seneca had to beat Rockville for a second time this season, and Einstein and Wheaton for a third time.
“To beat a team twice in season is hard,” said Seneca Valley sophomore Brandon Simpson after the game, “but beat a team three times – that’s just crazy.” Seneca Valley did that twice in this playoff run.
This might be a good time to point out that the last time the Seneca Valley boys basketball program won playoff a game was six years ago during the 2008-2009 season. That year the Eagles went to the State Championship game but came up short against Clifton Lake.
In the two seasons prior to first-year Head Coach Brian Humphrey taking over the program, Seneca Valley was 1-50. That is not a typo, that is one win and fifty loses in two seasons of basketball.
When the playoff seedings were announced last week and the news of Seneca’s punishment was released, Seneca Valley’s AD Jesse Irvin said, “We are extremely proud of the way [the players] 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.”
That is exactly what they did.
In doing so Humphrey, his assistants, and his team have brought pride back to the Seneca Valley’s basketball program.
“This is a blessing. Everyone doubted us this year,” said Simpson after the game. “No one thought we were going to go this far and we proved everyone wrong.”
“After Coach Humphrey came in everything just changed,” said Simpson. “The whole program just turned around in a positive direction.”
Although, the result of Saturday’s game at Wheaton was in question until the final minutes. After leading 10-8 at the end of the first quarter, the Eagles overcame a terrible second quarter in which the Knights went on 14-2 run to take a 21-12 lead with 3:55 remaining in the quarter.
“We didn’t get back on defense,” said Seneca Valley Head Coach Brian Humphrey of the near collapse in the second quarter. “We were sending all five guys to the board to rebound, and as a result, they were getting points in transition. If we were going to play an up and down game, and not get back in transition they were going to beat us for sure.”