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Md. playoff season begins with more controversy

February 24, 1997

By SHELDON SHEALER

Staff Writer

BELTSVILLE, Md. - Kevin Murphy drove to Beltsville for the high school basketball playoff pairings and walked away shaking his head.

Tom Dickman and Tom Faska didn't bother making the trip.

Murphy, whose Williamsport boys' basketball team is 20-1, drew the No. 3 position for this weekend's Class 1A West Region playoffs. No. 3 means a home game for the Wildcats, but what concerned Murphy is the fact that Williamsport, Westmar and Southern Garrett, regarded as the top three teams in the region, are on the same side of the draw. Only one can advance to the regional final.

"There's no value in analyzing it at this point," Murphy said. "No sour grapes here. That's the system we have. They tell us where to go and when and we do it. Under the system there's the potential (for one bracket to include all the top teams) for that to happen and it did today."

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Meanwhile, Dickman, who coaches area No. 2 Thomas Johnson, and Faska, who coaches No. 4 Frederick, stayed at home to watch college basketball on television and support a Montgomery County-sparked boycott of the event in protest to the draw format.

This year's draw was held at High Point High School. Every school that enters the regional tournament has a designated ping-pong ball. The pairings are determined as the ping-pong balls are retrieved from the lottery machines, with disregard to any regular-season performance or weighting system.

The regional tournaments open Friday with boys and girls first-round doubleheaders. In each situation, the boys play at 6 p.m., with the girls to follow, approximately at 8 p.m.

If a doubleheader occurs in the quarterfinal round, games are 6 and 8 on Monday. Quarterfinal boys-only games are scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. Girls-only quarterfinal games are Tuesday at 7 p.m.

All regional semifinals and finals sites are yet to be determined.

Boonsboro, Clear Spring and Smithsburg play first-round contests Friday. Hancock, North Hagerstown, South Hagerstown and Williamsport all have byes into the quarterfinal round.

In Class 1A West, Clear Spring will play host to Southern Garrett. In Class 1A South, River Hill travels to Smithsburg and Boonsboro plays host to Urbana. All three Friday night contests will be boys-girls doubleheaders.

Next week, in the Class 1A West quarterfinals, Northern Garrett plays at Hancock in a doubleheader Monday. Williamsport's boys team hosts to Oldtown. The Wildcats girls receive another bye and advance to the semifinals.

In Class 2A West quarterfinal action, Wheaton plays at South Hagerstown while North Hagerstown travels to Allegany for Monday doubleheaders.

Complete state pairings

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