With the end of last night’s play in the MPSSAA girls playoffs (MPSSAA Brackets) the stage has been set for some intriguing semi-final games tomorrow night. For full coverage of virtually every game, including my coverage of Seneca Valley vs Quince Orchard, go to Gamedaymd.
In the 4A West, Paint Branch’s win over Wootton coupled with Gaithersburg’s win over B-CC leads to a third Gaithersburg vs Paint Branch meeting of the year with a berth in the 4A West finals at stake. Paint Branch won both games during the year, 64-57 and 57-53, but in each game Gaithersburg had the lead at one point, and I suspect they are eager at the third chance to spring the upset. As always the key will be to hold down Brene Moseley, who dropped 34 on Wootton last night. I can listen all night about the rest of the team at Paint Branch, but as Moseley goes, so goes the team. Meanwhile, Gaithersburg shook off a late season lull beat B-CC fairly convincingly. I would love to suggest that, after all, beating a team three times in one season is really difficult, and it is. But probably not in this case, so I predict Paint Branch will move on to the finals.
Whitman crushed an overmatched Magruder, and Churchill outlasted Northwest to set up the rubber match game of the season for the two teams. On the Gameday All-Access Coaches Show show two weeks ago the Lady Vikings could not wait to get a chance to avenge a 55-50 overtime loss to the Bulldogs, and given the chance they made good on their desire, winning 56-47. This is more then a steppingstone to the finals; it is a fierce rivalry game as well. Another factor to consider is that while technically a home game for Whitman, the game will be played at neutral site Walter Johnson, negating what would’ve been a huge, vocal and partisan crowd. Never the less, I am predicting Whitman to take the game. I believe their depth and experience will carry them, and, having spoken with them during the show, just get a sense that they are on a mission, having had such a disappointing season last year. I look forward to watching them play against Paint Branch in what I suspect will be the regional final.
In the 3A West, Seneca Valley advanced to the semi-final game against Frederick with a fairly easy 61-37 win over Quince Orchard in a game I covered. Any chance to get to watch Kelsey Wolfe play is fine with me, and for at least the first half the Screamin’ Eagles played with passion and fire. But the game wasn’t very close, and they appeared to be playing out the string in the second half. I have not seen Frederick at all, but this is a rematch of last year’s upset win by Frederick, a game that left an extremely sour taste in Seneca Valley’s mouths. The game was marred by 59 total fouls called, and Seneca had four of their players foul out. Last night the Screamin’ Eagles also got into foul trouble, and for the second game in a row that I saw, Wolfe got into foul trouble for no real reason. While the team is deep and fairly experienced, they CANNOT win a regional or state title without her in the lineup, so Coach Todd Bumgardner will need to remind her about fouls. I believe Wolfe will heed Bumgardner’s warnings, and the Valley will move on to the finals.
Blake easily handled South Hagerstown and Damascus snuck past Linganore to set up a rematch for the finals berth. Blake beat Damascus early in the year, and while Damascus is on a nice roll and had a very strong team, Christine Weithman and company will be hard to beat, especially at home. So I look for Blake to move on to what I believe will be one of the best games of the year to watch: Seneca Valley vs Blake in the finals.
Tomorrow: A review of tonight’s boys 4A and 3A west quarterfinal games.