Long Reach point guard Jalen Brown is averaging 6.5 points per game and leading the team in assists (3.6 a game) entering the playoffs. (File photo by Nate Pesce / February 22, 2013)
Over the next four days, leading up to the start of the boys basketball playoffs, we’ll be previewing each of the 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.
2A South: 3rd seeded Long Reach (preview up Friday)
2A South: 1st seeded Oakland Mills (preview up Saturday)
3A East: 3rd seeded Reservoir (preview up Sunday)
3A East: 2nd seeded River Hill (preview up Monday)
Record: 12-7 county, 14-8 overall
Last state final four appearance: 2008 (Finalist)
Top players: Senior Brian Green (15.1 ppg, 2.0 spg); senior Jeremiah Hall (9.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg); senior Avery Allmond (9.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg); senior Jalen Brown (6.5 ppg, 3.6 apg).
Outlook: The Lightning closed the regular season winning seven of their last eight games and that lone loss was by a single point on the road against Centennial. That hot finish is what ultimately earned the team a protected seed, a first-round bye and the chance to open the playoffs at home.
“We put ourselves in the best possible situation we could have and as we’ve seen in the past, the home court is definitely huge,” Long Reach coach Al Moraz Jr. said. “There’s less distractions at home and the opportunity to play in front of our fans. Hopefully we can take advantage of that.”
Long Reach ended up edging Central by a single game for the third seed, which puts them on the opposite side of the bracket from them and top-seeded Oakland Mills. That doesn’t mean, however, that there won’t be challenges.
The Lightning will open up by hosting the winner of Glenelg (10-12) and Frederick Douglass-PG (11-11). Long Reach split the season series with Glenelg during the regular season and both games were decided by five points or less.
Should Long Reach advance past the quarterfinals, second-seeded Calvert will likely be waiting in a regional semifinal match-up.
“It’s going to be interesting … there’s nothing easy no matter where you are in the bracket,” Moraz said. “There were seven or eight teams in the region that were .500 or better this year.”
When Long Reach is at its best, they can shut teams down defensively. During the final eight games of the regular season, for example, the team didn’t allow any opponent to score more than 56 points against them and on three occasions the opposition didn’t get out of the 30s.
Cutting down on second-chance opportunities has a lot to do with it, as the defensive rebounding of Hall, Allmond and Green has continually gotten better as the season has progressed.
Green is the team’s go-to scorer with five games of 20 points or more this winter, but there are five other guys with at least two double-digit scoring efforts. Brown runs the offense and excels off the dribble, both as a scorer and passer.
“The big thing is that we need everyone doing their part for us to be successful,” Moraz said. “It’s not always points, either. Come playoff time, rebounding and bringing it on defense is sometimes even more important than scoring.”