With the various region tournaments set to get underway on Friday with the long term goal of reaching the Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland a top priority for the county boys’ basketball teams, the 4A South Region bracket appears to be the most contentious, wide-open of them all. Eleanor Roosevelt (19-3 overall, 16-1 […]
With the various region tournaments set to get underway on Friday with the long term goal of reaching the Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland a top priority for the county boys’ basketball teams, the 4A South Region bracket appears to be the most contentious, wide-open of them all.
Eleanor Roosevelt (19-3 overall, 16-1 in the county 4A league) will head into the region tournament as the tepid favorite next week – the top seeds have a first-round bye on Friday – the Raiders are hardly considered a cinch to capture the bracket. Roosevelt has been involved in a bevy of close games this winter in a parity-driven league and the Raiders suffered a 71-65, overtime setback at home against Parkdale (11-10, 9-8) which is not one of the higher seeds.
“In all the years I’ve been coaching at Roosevelt, this is definitely the most wide-open the league has been,” said Roosevelt coach Brendan O’Connell. “The county 4A league has always been one of the toughest leagues in the state, but this year the teams at the top are so evenly matched. On any given night, any of the teams can beat the other teams. It should make for an interesting playoffs.”
Northwestern (16-5, 13-3) has emerged as the Cinderella team in the league this year, although the roster boasts nine seniors and talented, diminutive point guard, Michael White. The Wildcats have also developed a flair for the dramatic this season, with narrow setbacks to Roosevelt and narrow victories over Charles H. Flowers, DuVal, Wise and Parkdale. Nevertheless, coach Terrence Burke is confident that his squad can earn a region crown.
“I think we’re definitely the team to beat,” Burke said. “We have a lot of experience. We have a great point guard in Michael and we have the best perimeter shooter in the league in Jarred Warrick. This is a solid, senior group. I think they know this is their time. They won’t have another chance like this to win a region title or play for a state title.”
Flowers (17-5, 13-4) ended its league slate late Friday with a 52-43 victory over DuVal on the Jaguars’ annual senior night. But Flowers got ample production from junior Elliott Brown and they also own a close win over Northwestern. The Jaguars will have to get past Roosevelt and defending 4A state champion Dr. Henry A. Wise to get another shot at Northwestern in the region final, however.
“We have about a week to get ready for our first playoff game, so we’ll need to have a good week of practice,” said Flowers coach Mark Edwards. “I think we have definitely gotten better over the last month of the season. We’ve had some close games, but this is a tough league. Every night you know you’re going to be in for a battle in the 4A league. But those games only help you get ready for the playoffs when all of the games are usually close.”
Wise (14-8, 12-5) arrived as the defending Maryland 4A state champions this winter, but the Pumas sport a much younger squad than the one that captured the state crown last March. Its two best players are sophomores, guards Michael Speight and forward Darron Barnes. The Pumas have had their share of close contests all winter, namely a heartbreaker at Roosevelt when the Raiders prevailed at the buzzer.
Three other county 4A teams enjoyed winning records in the league and are obvious dark horse candidates for the region title. DuVal (14-8, 10-8) enjoyed an 11-game win streak at one stretch this winter, but has since lost more games than it has won. Parkdale (11-10, 9-8) had been steeped in mediocrity all season until it upended Roosevelt in overtime, while Bowie (14-7, 9-7) has had close games with all of the upper tier squads and poses a genuine threat on any given night.
Largo (19-3, 16-1) won the county 3A/2A/1A league thanks largely to the efforts of senior center Abdulai Bundu, who is averaging better than 30 points per game, but the Lions could face Douglass (18-4, 15-2) for a third time in the 2A South Region playoffs. Largo won both of the league meetings, but coaches are often weary of attempting to topple another squad for a third time in the same season.
After finishing third in the county 3A/2A/1A standings, Crossland (17-4, 12-4) will be among the favorites to capture the 3A South bracket that includes Westlake. The Cavaliers lost close games to Largo and Douglass this winter, but they will not have to face either team in the tournament since both are in a different region. Crossland will be without leading scorer, Michael Middleton, an academic casualty for the third time in four seasons, but the Cavaliers feature the best point guard in the league in Kelvin Sellman.