At the end of the Wednesday’s game, as the Williamsport players and fans celebrated their 56-53 victory, Seneca Valley’s senior leader Triston Price stood alone just beyond the three-point arc near mid-court in disbelief and sorrow.
Price’s three-point shot to tie the game at the buzzer had just bounced off the rim ending the Eagles’ season and the four-year starter’s stellar career at Seneca Valley.
As Price stood and stared at the rim, Head Coach Brian Humphrey came out and hugged him. The two men who were instrumental in turning the Seneca Valley boys basketball program from a 0-40 joke to perennial force, playing four straight Section Finals, three Regional Finals, and two Maryland State Semi-Final appearances over the last four years, shared a moment between coach and player.
“I said, ‘I love you. I know you are upset that you didn’t make that shot, but I wouldn’t want anyone else to take that shot. I believe in you, and if it were to happen again I would want you to take that shot every time,” said Humphrey.
“You have to put yourself in a position to win and hope for the best, and that is what Triston does so well. He already pulled off one miracle for us last year when he had a five-point swing by himself,” said Humphrey referring to Price’s last-second heroics which allowed Seneca Valley to win the 2017 Regional Final game against Tuscarora in Germantown.
However, miracles like great players are rare.
The Eagles’ had led the Wildcats all game, which made the end of the game — the end of the season — that much harder to accept. Seneca Valley jumped out to an early 14-8 lead on the much taller Williamsport team. However, in the end it was the Wildcat’s size which allowed them to earn the victory.
In an effort to counterbalance the taller team, Seneca had to play tough, aggressive defense. Seneca’s senior point guard Harold Dotson earned two fouls in the first two minutes of the first quarter. Foul trouble would become an issue throughout the game. Indeed, four of the Wildcat’s eight first-quarter points came from the foul line.
“We worked on year on being tough and scrappy,” said Humphrey. “ When you are undersized, as we are, you have to be tough and scrappy. When every one of your starters is under 5-foot, 10-inches tall you have to be tough, and you have to be scrappy. You have to want it.”
Seneca maintained a five-point lead until the final minutes of the game. Price led the Eagles in scoring with 19 points, on four field goals, three long-balls, and two foul shots. Fellow senior Harold Dotson was also in double-digits in scoring with 10 points, on three buckets. He also shot four-for-four from the line.
“Harold is our floor general,” said Humphrey. “He’s the major reason we were able to do what we did this year. He’s the best defensive player in the county for my money. He’s so smart. We are not in that game without Harold.”
The Eagles had extended their lead to nine as the fourth-quarter began but the Wildcats would outscore Seneca 16-4 to close the game. The Wildcats would have three players in double-digits, Jakob Ball with 19 points, Lincoln Ball with 13 points, and Rockwon Becks with 10 points.
By the end of the fourth-quarter, all five players on the court for Seneca Valley were playing with four-fouls.
Leading by one point with 32.5 seconds left Seneca Valley was called for a foul which sent Williamsport’s Rockwon Becks to the line to shoot two. Becks would miss both and his second miss would be rebounded by the Wildcats’ Keith Hamilton. Hamilton’s lay-up would give Williamsport the first lead of the game with 27 seconds left in the game, 54-53.
Another late foul would put Williamsport’s sophomore Caleb Bowers on the line to shoot two. He would nail both shots to give the Wildcats a three-point lead with 14.5 seconds remaining.
Seneca Valley would push the ball down the floor. Price would pass the ball to Dotson for a baseline three-pointer which would rebound back to Price at the top of the key. Price would head-fake around a Wildcat defender and gain an open look for a three-point jumper at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, but the unfriendly Williamsport rim would not accept the ball and the clock ran out on Seneca’s hopes of a third trip to the Xfinity Center.
Williamsport will face Oakdale in the 2A West Regional Final for a chance to play in the 2A Final Four in College Park.
Top: Seneca Valley senior Triston Price (2) drives for one of his 19 points in his final game as the Screamin’ Eagle.
Next: Coach Brian Humphrey talks to his team at halftime of Wednesday’s playoff game against Williamsport.
Next: Senior Harold Dotson (11) flies for two points during Wednesday’s playoff game against Williamsport. He had 10 points his last game as a Screamin’ Eagle.
Next: Senior Manaseh Joaquin (10) drives for a basket. He has five points in last game as an Eagle.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.