While the girls’ tournament, which began Friday, will culminate with the state finals on March 9, the boys’ finals will be played on March 16. Most area boys’ teams were forced to wait at least a week between their final regular season game and the start of playoffs and some much longer.
“I know a lot of people aren’t happy about it, but what can you do?” Springbrook Coach Tom Crowell said. “You try your best to keep your team as sharp as possible. In some ways, it’s been a plus for us, but if you have a healthy team on a roll, I think it could be a distraction.”
Springbrook, which travels to Baltimore on Tuesday to play Mergenthaler in a Maryland 4A North matchup, only had a week between games. Like many in Montgomery County, the Blue Devils played their final regular season game last Tuesday, but most leagues try to fit all their regular season games in before the state draw, which occurred along with the girls’ draw on Feb. 17.
Crowell still took his team to Long Reach on Friday evening to practice with the Lightning, just to get on the court with a different group of players during the break. Defending Maryland 4A champion Magruder welcomed Urbana from Frederick County down for a similar workout session and others around the area did the same.
The hiatus stretched an extra week for some teams in Prince George’s County, which wrapped up the regular season on Feb. 14.
The league champions, Potomac (Md.) and Eleanor Roosevelt, played for the county title last Wednesday, and after the sixth-ranked Raiders beat the Wolverines on Malachi Alexander’s game-winning dunk, Coach Brendan O’Connell likened the eight days before the team’s playoff opener to training camp.
The five other county squads that earned first-round byes will have endured a 14-day layoff when they return to action on Thursday.
“It’s been tough trying to keep guys’ heads into it,” said DuVal Coach Lafayette Dublin, whose team earned the No. 2 seed and a bye in the Maryland 4A South. “Rest is always good, but with two or three days off, you start to get out of basketball shape that fast. I’ve just been trying to keep practices as competitive as I can.”
As an annual guest at the College Park campus, the MPSSAA was forced to work around the university’s schedule. The organization has traditionally rented the facility when the Terrapins are out of town at the ACC tournament, which this season is being played March 14-17 in Greensboro, N.C. Comcast Center is also hosting the conference’s wrestling tournament at Comcast on March 9, the day the girls’ finals will be played at UMBC in Catonsville.