Looking at the pedigrees of this year’s 3A boys basketball state final four, Reservoir certainly sticks out as the new kid on the block.
Each of the other three teams that won 3A region titles last week, Milford Mill (24-2), Potomac (21-3) and Urbana (21-4), have made it down to the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center for the state semifinals at least once in the last seven years.
Reservoir, however, finds itself making the journey for the first time in program history.
“Winning the region was huge for us, no doubt, but as we got back to practicing Saturday and Monday we started talking about reevaluating our goals,” Reservoir coach Mike Coughlan said. “It’s time to turn our attention to that state picture and obviously it’s going to be a challenge for us, but we’re not going down there just to be along for the ride. We’re going there, like everyone else, to win.”
Reservoir is slated to square off against Potomac at 5 p.m. Thursday in one semifinal. Milford Mill and Urbana will kick the day off in the other semifinal at 3 p.m.
Coughlan, who is in his first year leading the Gators after spending last year at Marriotts Ridge, has some history on the state stage. Although he’s never gotten to states as a coach, he was a player on the 1986 Oakland Mills squad that lost in the state semifinals.
That memory is something he’ll try to use as a motivator for this Reservoir group.
“There was a feeling after making it to this level and losing with that Oakland Mills team that once the game was over we were all just happy to be there. That upset me for a long time, because when you’re that close you don’t always get back,” Coughlan said. “So I’m trying to get the kids to understand that. I want them to enjoy this, but I also don’t want to squander the opportunity because we’re so close.”
All winter, Reservoir’s strength has been its balance. Junior guard Kyle Reilly leads the way with 10.7 points per game, but behind him there are 11 different guys averaging 2.7 points a game or more. Nine guys, including Matt Christian (8.0 point per game), Aaron McDonald (7.6) and Cody Toler (7.2), have scored double digits in at least two games.
“I had a couple people early on I was playing too many (kids), but I honestly never waivered from it,” Coughlan said. “All those guys have proven themselves and it’s really benefitted us at times. When someone’s out sick, in foul trouble or whatever, there’s someone else there to step in.
Below is a snapshot of the other teams in the 3A final four. The state championship game is scheduled for Saturday, March 16 at 3 p.m.
Last state final four appearance: 2006
Scouting report: The Wolverines of Prince George’s County have undergone a transformation over the last two years under coach Renard Johnson, who has taken a program that was 4-17 during the 2010-11 season and guided them all the way to the state semifinals.
Last year the team went 18-7 and this year the team is currently sitting at 21-3.
“We made it to the region (final) round last year and this year we were able to win it. I just think it shows a progression and shows that the program is on a steady incline,” Johnson said.
Potomac is 18-1 since dropping two of three games earlier in the season (against Douglass and Sidwell Friends) and has really developed into an offensive powerhouse. Dion Wiley, a junior guard being heavily recruited by schools like Maryland, Georgetown, Cincinnati and Miami, is the focal point.
He averages 18 points a game, while also grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out 6 assists every time out. It’s his unselfishness, though, that has made the Wolverines excel.
“He’s the most unassuming star player you’re ever going to meet … a good player, but a great teammate,” Johnson said. “He sort of sets the tone for the team and he’s getting better and better at taking over games when we need it.”
There are plenty of other weapons around Wiley, though. Walter Broddie is a freshman point guard averaging 17 points and 8 assists a night. Then there’s Romone Saunders (13 ppg, 10 rpg), who coach Johnson says may be the most important piece of all.