By Kevin O’Rourke
Midnight comes for every Cinderella and for the Seneca Valley boys basketball team, midnight came in the form of Linganore’s Jack Staub who didn’t strike 12 times, he struck 34 times.
Staub’s 34 point performance propelled Linganore to the Final Four in the Maryland 3A State Championship Tournament.
The Eagles from Germantown travelled up the hill to Linganore High School in Frederick County, to face the Lancers on Monday night. In a hard fought game which had momentum swings and defensive stands and a capacity crowd, the Lancers came out on top.
Early in the first quarter Seneca Valley had a case of the yips, and seemed to have trouble maintaining control of the ball on offense. An aggressive Linganore defense took advantage and ripped off 12 points to go up 12-4, and the large and loud and pro Linganore home crowd had the gym rocking.
Staub would score 10 points in the opening eight minutes, and the combination of the excitement of the crowd and the quick scoring, made it seem like the young Eagles team was about to be run out of the gym. After a timeout and a quick refocusing by Seneca Valley Head Coach Brian Humphrey, Seneca would settle down and end the quarter down eight points, 19-11.
The boys from Germantown didn’t fold and go home. They did what they had done all season long.
They shrugged it off when last year’s record made everybody overlook them. They worked hard when they lost their first four games of the season.
They dug in when they were penalized and would have to win all the playoff games on the road.
They got scrappy in Wheaton when they started slow.
Monday night in a hostile environment with everything on the line, against a team that won 18 games, Seneca Valley shrugged off a tough start, worked hard, dug in, got scrappy, and kept fighting.
Seneca would start the second quarter scoring with a three-pointer from freshman Tristan Price, who would finish the game with 13 points. His third straight double-digit scoring performance of the playoffs. What Price started in the second quarter, junior guard DeJuan Smith would finish. Smith would get seven of his team leading 15 points in the second quarter. Seneca Valley would outscore Linganore 16-5 in the quarter to take a 27-24 lead into halftime.
The second half would belong to Staub and the Lancers. Staub shot six field goals while Linganore’s Thomas Lang would add another nine points in the half, to finish with 14 points for the game. The Lancers outscored the Eagles 16-10 in the third period, Seneca trailed 37-40.
In the fourth quarter, Lang and Staub stepped up the offensive pressure and the Lancers defense began to stifle Seneca Valley’s offense for three or four possessions at a time, forcing poor shots or just making Eagles alter shots and miss baskets. Seneca Valley saw very few easy looks at the basket in the fourth quarter.
Linganore will advance to play Westlake on Thursday in the Xfinty Center. Westlake defeated Northern 56-52.
The Eagles run through the 3A Division in Montgomery County brought pride back to a program that suffered through two horrendous seasons.
Seneca Valley was the Cinderella team this year. A team that was overlooked most of this season by basketball pundits in Montgomery County after winning only one game the previous two seasons. The Eagles played this season with only two seniors on the roster -- Tre’van Mitchell and Jae Hyun Jang -- in a season in which the Eagles posted a record of 15-8.
Next season, Seneca will start five players who won the Division 3A Montgomery County Championship. Next year nobody will overlook the Eagles. Next year, some other team can wear the glass slippers, Seneca Valley is done with them.
Top: Seneca Valley sophomore Brandon Simpson (3) goes up for shot as Linganore’s Keegan Lane (11) defends.
Next: Linganore’s Jack Staub (32) is guarded by Seneca Valley’s DeJuan Smith (2), Staub had 34 points to help the Lancers defeat Seneca Valley on Monday night.
Next: Seneca Valley junior Will Craig brings down a rebound.
Next: Brandon Simpson (3) goes to hoop but is double teamed by Linganore’s Keegan Lane (11) and Carter Schmidt (12).
Photos by Germantown Pulse.