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Maryland 3A Boys' Basketball Semifinals

After Surging Into Lead, Seneca Valley Is Denied by Lake Clifton

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By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 13, 2009

When Bruce Massey made a steal and dribbled the length of the court for a layup midway through the third quarter that gave 18th-ranked Seneca Valley its first lead since the opening minutes in yesterday's Maryland 3A semifinal, the Screaming Eagles seemed to have all the momentum. Suddenly, the daunting task of ending Lake Clifton's undefeated season seemed quite plausible.

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But as soon as Seneca Valley surged to the lead, things quickly came undone. There were missed layups, missed free throws and unforced turnovers. And by the time the Screaming Eagles ended a six-minute scoreless stretch, a bid for the Germantown school's first state final appearance had faded.

Former National Christian standout Will Barton had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 5 steals, helping Lake Clifton of Baltimore send Seneca Valley to a 63-54 loss before 2,000 at Comcast Center.

"We had them," said Seneca Valley Coach Tom Sheahin, whose team lost in the state semifinals for the second time in four years. "Not against the ropes, but it might have been a little different if we had made a couple of those shots."

The Screaming Eagles (22-4) trailed by nine points in the first half before Massey's steal and basket put them in front 37-35.

However, Seneca Valley's offense then went awry. The Screaming Eagles missed their next 12 shots and had seven turnovers before a three-pointer from the top of the key by Jon Velez ended a 15-0 run. But that only cut the deficit to 50-40 and Seneca Valley never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

"We didn't play our basketball game," Massey said. "We all tried to do it ourselves."

Lake Clifton (27-0) took a moment to get its offense going, but had plenty of firepower to take control while Seneca Valley struggled. Guard Jason Sharp scored seven consecutive points, including a three-pointer from the right wing and a layup following a behind-the-back pass by Barton. Sharp finished with a game-high 21 points, while Antonio Barton, Will's brother, added 14.

Lake Clifton 63 No. 18 Seneca Valley 54 Up Next: Lake Clifton will play Friendly (24-3) in the Maryland 3A championship game tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Comcast Center. Not So Free: Seneca Valley was hampered by poor free throw shooting. The Screaming Eagles made 7 of 17 three-point attempts, but just 7 of 15 free throws.


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