For Vertically Challenged Seneca Valley, Massey Has Come Up Big at Low Post

Bethesda-Chevy Chase's Austin Cooley said he hopes to return for the playoffs after fracturing two bones in his hand.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase's Austin Cooley said he hopes to return for the playoffs after fracturing two bones in his hand. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)
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By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 24, 2008

Perhaps no player has been asked to change his role more dramatically this season than Seneca Valley junior Bruce Massey. Put him next to his Screaming Eagles teammates, and it's easy to see why.

After playing point guard for last year's Maryland 3A West Region finalists, Massey arrived at practice this season standing a shade over 6-foot-1. He was Seneca's tallest player. As a result, he has had to play a variety of positions, but primarily, Massey has been in the low post. It hasn't hurt his production.

Massey is the third leading scorer among players from county public schools, at 21.4 points per game. He scored a season-high 37 points in a 70-69 victory Friday against Clarksburg. Massey's season high last year was 23, and he averaged 6.7, sixth on the team.

"He's a great point guard, but he's been playing center for us," Seneca Valley Coach Tom Sheahin said. "He's been scoring the majority of his points in the low post, but he can score from anywhere on the court."

Playing small is nothing new to the Eagles, who are 8-3 heading into tomorrow's game against Einstein. In last year's 3A West final, when Seneca Valley was significantly undersized at every position, the Eagles slowed down the game in an effort to stay with top-seeded Bethesda-Chevy Chase. They had a chance to beat the Barons on the game's final possession before losing, 45-43.

It makes it all the more impressive that, in spite of its lack of height, Seneca Valley is pulling out close games. All but one of its games have been decided by single digits. Perhaps things wouldn't be as close if the Eagles had bigger bodies. "What we're finding is that teams are staying in games because of our height," Sheahin said. "We're giving them second and third chances, so we have to keep working on boxing out.

"The kids have definitely shown composure down the stretch at the end of games. It's the other 30 minutes we're working on."

Seneca Valley is getting nice contributions from senior Chris Gee, a transfer from Gaithersburg. Gee, who is second on the team in scoring at 14.6 points per game, had a career-high 28 points in an 83-76 victory at Watkins Mill on Jan. 8. Streaky senior guard Mike Williamson can be one of the most effective long-range shooters in the county; Williamson has made at least three three-pointers in six games this season.

A Turnaround for Watkins Mill, and Its Coach

Jay Tringone didn't have to say much to motivate his players when he took over Watkins Mill's boys' program in May. The Wolverines were three months removed from a 1-20 season, which ended with 17 straight defeats.

"Do you really want to finish your careers like that?" he asked them.

The Wolverines have answered resoundingly with a 7-4 start, heading into last Tuesday's game at Einstein.

"They've been able to use last year's experience as motivation," said Tringone, who coached Seneca Valley from 2002 to '05. The Screaming Eagles won as many games in Tringone's third and final season as they did in his first two combined.

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