Coaches react to hoop pairings

February 18, 2001

Coaches react to hoop pairings

By DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

Brunswick boys basketball coach Jim Sklencar and Smithsburg girls coach Jimmy Powell both have a pretty good idea of what's coming up next weekend when the MPSSAA playoffs begin. North boys coach Tim McNamee ... well, he's not really sure. He's not really worried about it either.

"Honestly, we won't even talk about this until Thursday," said McNamee, whose Hubs received the No. 2 seed in the highly competitive 3A West region. "We'll go scout (Thomas Johnson and South Carroll) on Tuesday night. But as far as the players, we'll play Wednesday and then we'll worry about (the playoffs)."

The Hubs are stuck in an odd situation. Sunday, they clinched the No. 2 seed in the region at the MPSSAA's state draw held at Arundel High School.

For most teams, conference seasons are over, but not for North, which is on the brink of its first Monocacy Valley Athletic League title after 11 years in the league. So its Feb. 23 quarterfinal matchup with the Seneca Valley-North Carroll survivor will just have to wait a little bit longer.


"Our main goal was to get seeded," McNamee said. "And with the bye, we've got time to worry about (Francis Scott Key on Wednesday). If we played Friday, you'd have to say something.

"But now we've got to win Wednesday. And that won't be easy."

Neither will region play, once the Hubs get into it. Their high seed doesn't guarantee them any home games, based on what their opponents do; it does, however, give them a better chance.

"You'd always prefer that. Any way it could work out, that would be great," McNamee said. "But there's a lot of scenarios. If you get one at home, then you might have to go to TJ. And which would you want, the other team at home, or TJ at home? ... You just take them one at a time."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> For the Class 1A South boys, things were left in a records jumble after No. 1 South Hagerstown. So imagine the delight - or disaster - for Sklencar and Brunswick, which was drawn into the No. 8 hole against Catoctin in the first round, with the winner facing the Rebels.

Despite all its troubles this year, the Railroaders are the only other league team besides North to trump the Rebels.

"We've played well against the the first two times," Sklencar said. "And if we get them again, we'll have to do it again. It's a crazy game, I really don't have any explanation why (we play well against them)."

At 8-13, Brunswick's season looks like something out of a science fiction novel: Beat South, lose to North in OT, get swept by Smithsburg, get rocked twice by FSK, beat Middletown.

"This team really isn't that bad. We just aren't good at a couple of things - one of them is shooting," Sklencar said with a laugh. "The things we do do, we do them well. Against South, we've shot the ball well. Against Smithsburg, we scored one point in 13 minutes and 40 seconds, and they still needed a last-second shot to win. So we're there."

The question is, can they stay there. Brunswick has won the region crown the last two seasons and has played in the final six of the last nine times. In order to keep that streak up, they're up against a serious challenge.

"We've been successful in the past, so we'll see what happens,"Sklencar said. "In the past, there's been some pressure because we were supposed to win this. This time, we're not. So we don't have anything to lose now."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> In Class 1A South girls, Smithsburg pulled itself into the region's top seed, but a fourth matchup with Catoctin looms in the semifinals. Even though the Cougars are only 11-9, it's the Ws - and not the three Ls against the Leopards - that worry Powell.

"Since we've played them (all before Jan. 13), they've really turned the corner," Powell said. "They've beat Middletown, played well against Allegany and Urbana. That's really helped them."

However, if it all plays out, the game will be in Smithsburg, a venue that has been rather unkind to foes in playoff competition lately.

"We sat down and talked early about getting the homecourt with the top seed," Powell said. "We had a huge advantage with it last year (upsetting Oakland Mills and hanging with Glenelg).

"After we lost to Walkersville (on Feb. 6) we said every game was a playoff game now, if we wanted to get that homecourt again. We said we needed the wins ... it was sort of a do-or-die situation."

Against a self-imposed wall, Smithsburg hasn't backed off the accelerator, averaging a staggering 77 points per game in three wins since then. Now, the challenge is to keep the motor humming.

"If we win Tuesday, that will give us 17 wins. That's the same number we had last year," Powell said. "We have talked about past teams and how they've done to this point. Now, the girls are comparing themselves to those old teams. And that's a good thing."

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