Alex Sotomayor leads Watkins Mill to comeback win over Seneca Valley

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from high school basketball games in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC/The Washington Post)
January 21, 2013

Watkins Mill boys’ basketball Coach Jay Tringone received the stat sheet from an assistant on the walk to the locker room after Friday’s 72-71 win at Seneca Valley and began adding up the numbers in the scoring column for senior Alex Sotomayor. The sixth-year coach sensed the 6-foot-4 swingman had turned in one of the greatest offensive performances in school history, but the math confirmed it.

Sotomayor scored a career-high 40 points, including the game-winning layup with seven seconds left, as the Wolverines erased a 19-point deficit to beat the Screamin’ Eagles. By posting the highest single-game individual point total in Montgomery County this season, he took over the county scoring lead at 19.9 points per game.

“I wasn’t thinking about the stats at all,” said Sotomayor, who connected on 16 of 28 shots from the field. “I didn’t know I had 40 until Coach Tringone came into the locker room and told me. . . . I just wanted to score as much as I could as quickly as possible to help my team get back in the game.”

Watkins Mill (10-3, 6-2 Montgomery 3A/2A) needed every basket from Sotomayor to complete the comeback against still-winless Seneca Valley (0-13, 0-8). The Eagles surged to a 19-point lead early in the second half before the Wolverines kicked into gear, using their press to fuel the run.

Sotomayor scored 24 points in the second half, including a stretch in which he scored nine points in about 15 seconds early in the fourth quarter. He made a pair of three-pointers and converted a three-point play to cut a 10-point lead down to one, capitalizing on a pair of quick Seneca Valley turnovers.

Even so, Watkins Mill trailed, 71-70, with less than 10 seconds left as senior Patrick Schlosser prepared to inbound the ball under Seneca Valley’s basket. The Wolverines ran a play they had just added in practice the day before and Schlosser found Sotomayor open for the go-ahead layup. The Eagles turned the ball over on their final chance without managing a shot.

“It was just a good high school basketball game,” said Tringone, who went home and watched the game tape afterward to confirm Sotomayor’s stat line. “I was happy with the way we took it one possession at a time. We didn’t try to win the game back in one possession.”

Sotomayor, who was a part-time starter last season when Watkins Mill won the Montgomery 3A/2A title, finished the game two points shy of the school record. Corey Robinson, the program’s all-time leading scorer, posted 42 points in a 1992 contest.

It was the first 40-point effort by a Montgomery County public school player since Magruder’s Nick Griffin hit that mark last February in a win against Wootton. Bladensburg senior Mike Jones produced the area’s top point total last week with 45 points in Tuesday’s 81-77 loss to Wise, while Ballou senior Daywone Wright also scored 40 points in a 91-87 win over Takoma Academy on Saturday.

In a phone interview, Sotomayor made sure to credit senior Tyvon Grant, who finished the game with 15 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. Grant assisted on eight of Sotomayor’s 16 field goals.

“I was definitely hot,” said Sotomayor, who expects to continue his career at a Division II or Division III college with McDaniel, Bloomsburg and Frostburg among those expressing interest. “I knew what I was going to do before I even caught the ball. It felt really good because I’ve never had a game like that. . . . I felt like my teammates trusted me, and I took advantage of the opportunity and kept shooting.”

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