Reservoir's Cody Toler is averaging 6.9 points a game for a Gators' team that has won seven straight games heading into the postseason. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda)
Over the next four days, leading up to the start of the boys basketball playoffs, we’ll be previewing each of Howard County’s teams that received a top-four seed either in the 2A South Region or the 3A East Region. All four teams have first-round byes and will get their postseasons underway on Thursday, Feb. 28.
3A East: 3rd seeded Reservoir (Sunday)
3A East: 2nd seeded River Hill (preview up Monday)
Record: 14-5 county, 16-6 overall
Last state final four appearance: N/A
Top players: Junior Kyle Reilly (11.2 ppg); Senior Matt Christian (8.0 ppg); Junior Aaron McDonald (7.5 ppg); Senior Cody Toler (6.9 ppg).
Outlook: The Gators may be one of the deepest teams in the entire state of Maryland, boasting an astounding 11 different guys that are averaging three or more points per game. All 11 have also scored at least eight points on multiple occasions.
“Each one of those guys has done things to help us at different times … they’ve earned their time,” coach Mike Coughlan said. “And the kids have been great about accepting the spread of minutes. They realize that the team is bigger than themselves and we’re better because of that.”
Reservoir was as hot as any area squad at the end of the regular season, rolling off seven straight wins by 10 points or more. Three of those victories were by 30 points or more.
“It took us a little while to get rolling, but the last 12 games we are 10-2 and the effort has been much more consistent,” said Coughlan, who watched his squad open the year 0-2. “It’s nice because you can see the little things becoming habit for the guys and that’s what you need to be able to revert to in the pressure situations of the playoffs.”
With a first-round bye, the Gators await the winner of Hammond (0-22) and Atholton (10-12) in the quarterfinals. Reservoir swept Hammond and split with Atholton, with both games against the Raiders decided by single digits.
Coughlan says both teams pose problems.
“This time of year, there’s nothing easy. They both know us well,” Coughlan said. “Hammond has some tough players and Atholton was one of the team’s to beat us early in the year. We have to be at our best no matter who it is.”
Should Reservoir advance to the semifinals, one of two upper echelon county teams, River Hill (17-5) and Centennial (14-8), could be waiting.
The Gators are capable of beating you in a number of different ways, with Reilly, McDonald and Toler serving as guards who can shoot from beyond the arc. They also have the inside presence of Christian, Brandon Franklin, Darius Boris, Seth Henry and James Simms.
And when the offense isn’t punishing teams, they can lock opponents up on defense thanks to versatile wing players like Cameron Brooks and Josh Williams.