Patterson Mill boys basketball, the last team on my coverage list left alive after everyone else got knocked out on or before Feb. 28, traveled down to the Eastern Shore on Saturday afternoon for the 2A East regional final with Easton, and though I thought the Huskies might have won with a couple of different calls and a few more shots made (obviously), they came up short, losing 47-42. With that loss, unless I'm assigned to cover one of the girls basketball state final games, I don't have a horse left in the race, and must wait until baseball and softball begin before I start receiving results again. So, with little else to go on, here's my journalistic wish list I came up with trucking back from Easton Saturday evening:
1. The MPSSAA's 2A East regional tournament gets rid of the "District Sectional" formats: Though this format is employed in baseball, softball, girls soccer, boys soccer, girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse, I'm just going to focus on basketball since it's hot on my mind. If you look at the MPSSAA's regional basketball tournament brackets, the 2A East is strange in that, rather than having the teams seeded one through 16, the competition is cut into two, with half of the squads playing in the District VII Section, and the other eight taking part in the District VIII Section. The two teams that make it out of sectional play meet to decide who goes to the state semifinals, which sounds fine, but, with basketball, every time a Harford County team wins the District VII title, which is more often than not since five of the eight teams are local, they wind up as the visiting team in the regional final, and that means they're driving more than two hours to play on the Eastern Shore. I can't seem to dig up my 2008 tournament brackets, so let's start in 2009, the year Edgewood traveled to Easton and lost. Next year, same result. In 2011, host-team Easton beats Fallston. This year, Easton hosts Patterson Mill and wins. Why isn't the District VII Sectional champ ever the host? It's certainly not an issue of seeding, because Patterson Mill was the top-ranked team in District VII, while Easton was the second seed in District VIII. It's not regular-season record, because Patterson Mill's was better than Easton's. If someone from the MPSSAA can explain to why the District VIII winner is de facto host of the 2A East final, I'm all ears (hopefully it's not something really obvious that will make me fee dumb).
2. A Harford County boys basketball team breaks the state semifinal drought: Since I started at The Aegis during the 2007-2008 high school sports season, not one Harford County boys basketball team has made it past the regional finals. Edgewood came closest in 2009, losing to Easton, 112-110, in a five-overtime epic at the 2A East final. I thought Aberdeen had a shot in both 2008 and 2009, but the Eagles got knocked out of the 3A North final by Howard County teams both years. I had the privilege of covering the Aberdeen girls team in last year's 3A title game, but I was just filling in for sports editor Randy McRoberts, who covers girls basketball. What I want is to see a Harford County boys team make it to the Comcast Center for the state semifinals. I've been to state final games in every other sport I've covered
3. Soccer's penalty shot tie-breaker is abolished: A little out of place, no? I realize talking about soccer this far away from the fall season is strange, but, as I've written many times in this column, penalty shots are a stupid way to decide a game, and I wish they were done away with, from rec leagues to soccer's highest level.
4. The IronBirds bounce back from a dreadful 2011: Post-game interviews are fun when the team you're covering is on a hot streak, but they can be downright tense when said team is in the middle of its worst-ever season. Hopefully this summer sees the Aberdeen men come back with something better than a 24-51 campaign.
5. The Orioles either finish over .500, or in the A.L. East's third spot: I won't hold my breath.