Seneca Valley’s magical run through the playoffs was cut short Thursday night by a Stephen Decatur High School player that had breathed the rarified Xfinity Center air last year and fully understood the importance of coming up big on the big stage.
Decatur senior Torrey Brittingham who scored half of the Seahawks 66 points but none bigger than the three foul shots he drained after selling the referee that there was contact from Seneca Valley’s sophomore Triston Price on his shot.
“He was kind of closing in on me a little out of control all game, so I knew that if I could get the shot off he was probably going to give me a little contact,” said the Brittingham. As junior, last year, Brittingham played in the Maryland State Semi-Final game with Wicomico and lost.
It was a veteran move that earned him the free points, and he stepped up and nailed them to give his team lead, 62-61 with just 31.7 seconds remaining. “I was just hoping that the ref was going give me the call, and there was maybe a little acting at the end, a little bit,” he said with a laugh. “It was a great call I guess.”
“Torrey was here last year, and he promised me that he was going to win a state championship,” said Seahawks Head Coach Bryon Johnson. “Man was he phenomenal tonight in this game.” Johnson pointed out the Brittingham scored his 1,000th career point in the contest.
The foul resulted in Price, who was a spark-plug on the floor for the Eagles as their leading scorer, fouling out of the game. He would finish with 18 points going 11-for-13 from the free throw line.
Through the first two periods, the game was tight with the halftime score tied at 33 reflecting the back and forth nature of the game. Stephen Decatur was trying to push the pace of the game with fast breaks and long passes to a streaking Brittingham.
After the break, Seneca did a better job controlling the ball, and it resulted in the Eagles jumping out to a 10 point lead as senior Quentin Twyman got the scoring started in the second half, and senior Terry Milburne swatted away a Decatur shot for one of his four blocks in the game.
However, it was junior Brandon Simpson who got the Seneca faithful and the Xfinity Center rocking with a three-point play consisting of a monster dunk off a low feed from Price. The dunk would draw a foul and Simpson would drain the free throw to give the Eagles a 42-33 lead with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter. On the next possession, Simpson would be fouled putting a rebound back and extend the lead to 43-33, and it seemed the Eagles were in control.
“We wanted to control the tempo of the game, and we worked to make sure we got back on defense,” said Seneca Valley Head Coach Brian Humphrey. We got a couple of stops and couple of turnovers. All season we’ve really fed off of our defense, I thought Terry’s block at the beginning of the third quarter really sparked us and then Brandon’s dunk definitely got us going.”
Decatur would regroup and begin to reel in the Eagles, and the lead would dwindle to three points at the end of the third quarter.
Price would begin the fourth by burying a three-pointer to extend the Seneca lead to five. Seneca would hold the lead for until just before the 2:09 mark when the Seahawks would tie the game at 57. The Eagles would extend the lead to four from the free-throw line to make it 61-57.
With 1:00 minute remaining, Brittingham would take over. The senior would make a jumper to cut the lead to two. After a traveling call on Seneca Valley gave the ball back to Seahawks, Brittingham would get the generous foul call on the three-pointer and nail all three shots to take the lead, 61-62 with just 31 ticks left.
Seneca’s Tryran Crawford’s jumper would bounce off the rim, and after a quick scramble, it would bounce to Brittingham who scampered to extend the lead again, 61-64 with a fast-break layup with 14.2 seconds remaining. After a Seneca Valley turnover, the Seahawks Kevon Voyles added two more points as time ran out on the Eagles season.
Seneca Valley had four players scoring in double-digits; Price has 18 points, Twyman finished with 14 points, Kareem Matthew added 13 points, and Simpson finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. The Eagles out rebounded the Seahawks 36-32, but the Seahawks shot 54 percent compared to Seneca’s 33 percent.
“Only one team gets to go home as the state champ,” said Humphrey. “I am exceptionally proud of these young men for the season that we had. We started 1-2 and since then have really been on a roll before today, and to have a chance to win there at the end was really something special.”
The last time the Eagles felt the sting of defeat was Jan. 30, the day after Humphrey’s father and the team’s scorekeeper passed away suddenly. It has been an emotional journey for the coach and team.
“My father passed at the end of January and what these guys were able to do in terms of helping me get through that was really something special,” said Humphrey, who held a photo of his father in his hands throughout the game. As he did which coaching his team to victories in throughout the postseason.
“My staff and I had the honor to take over this team two years ago,” said Humphrey. “The previous two season before that the team had gone 1-41. The way that these seniors have progressed, the way they allowed us to coach them, and their overall positive attitude and how they grew, is something that we will dearly miss but try to learn from,” said Humphrey talking about the five seniors on this team that went from a 40 game losing streak to making two deep post-season runs.
“As long as the guys continue to play the way they do the future is very bright,” said Humphrey, reflecting on the program. “In our starting lineup we started two seniors, but we also started two juniors and sophomore. We have a lot of capable underclassmen coming up.”
With the win over Seneca Valley, Stephen Decatur will advance to the final game versus C. Milton Wright High School on Saturday afternoon. Wright defeated Huntington 61-52 in the early game on Thursday.
Top: Seneca Valley senior Quentin Twyman (11) began the Screaming Eagles third quarter run with this layup during the Maryland State 3A Semi-Final Game on at the Xfinity Center on Thursday night. He would finish with 14 points.
Next: Stephen Decatur’s Torrey Brittingham (3) led all scorers as the senior had 33 points in the semi-final.
Next: The Eagles had relied on their defense to spur their offense all season and Thursday was no exception.
Next: Brandon Simpson (3) brings the ball up court at the end of the first half while being defended by Decatur’s Ryan Beach (15).
Next: Sophomore Triston Price (12) with the finger roll. He led all Eagles in scoring with 18 points.
Next: Senior Quentin Twyman (11) drew the foul on this shot midway through the fourth quarter.
Next: Junior Tryan Crawford (5) with the jumper.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Stephen Decatur High School has played in the Maryland State Semi-Final game last year. That information was incorrect. The article has been corrected.