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

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.

Things have turned around as coach of the Wolverines.

"When I took over, there was no doubt we had some talent and some size," he said.

It's awfully convenient that they both come in the same packages. Seniors Bobby Bazelias and Jason Summerour, 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-6, respectively, are skilled enough to play facing the basket and even out on the perimeter, where their size creates significant matchup problems.

Bazelias is averaging 17.9 points per game to lead the team and is getting seven free throws per game and converting 77 percent of the time. Summerour, meanwhile, is averaging 16.4 points and leads the Wolverines with 23 three-pointers. He might be the bellwether for Watkins Mill's success; in the team's seven victories, Summerour is averaging 18.6 points, a half-dozen more than he's averaged in its four losses.

A Big Return for Cougars, a Big Loss for Barons

One of the top players in the county is back in action, and another may be back before long.

Quince Orchard senior forward Neal Kosciulek, who missed five weeks with a broken right ankle, returned Friday and scored 13 points in a 52-43 victory over Walter Johnson, the Cougars' fourth straight.

During Kosciulek's absence, role players like seniors Jeff Dowdy and Charles Wolz and sophomore Mac Kennedy took on added responsibilities and showed they can handle pressure. Quince Orchard's four victories without Kosciulek each came by five points or less.

Over at Bethesda-Chevy Chase, the Barons might get senior guard Austin Cooley back before the playoffs. Cooley, who fractured two bones in his right hand in a loss to Damascus on Dec. 14, saw his doctor Friday and will be reexamined in about two weeks, at which time he could be cleared to practice, said Barons Coach Steve Thompson.

Thompson hopes the absence of a star has the same impact on his players as it did at Quince Orchard. In the first half of Friday's game against Wheaton, just the Barons' second game in 10 days, Thompson was disappointed that his players hadn't absorbed some of the ball-movement and defensive tactics they had practiced.

With the game tied at 24-24, B-CC turned it on in the second half. The Barons held Wheaton scoreless in the third period and pulled away for a 58-32 victory. Four Barons reached double figures, led by junior forward David Kriegsfeld's career-high 15 points.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company