The No. 1 City boys basketball is perfect this season with a 24-0 mark and the champions in Baltimore City, which is arguably the toughest league in the state among public schools.
However, for the Knights to go to the state tournament, they must first hit the road to Howard County to play Reservoir (18-5) Friday night for the Class 3A East crown.
This school year, the Maryland Public Secondary Athletic Association (MPSAA) split the regions into two sections (Section I and Section II) for all the sports in the fall, winter and spring seasons and decided to alternate which would host the respective region titles games on a yearly basis.
This year, the host school is coming from the Section II, which is Reservoir in Class 3A East in boys basketball. City reached the region title game coming out of Section I.
"It’s a tough pill," City coach Daryl Wade said. "The kids work hard all year to stay undefeated and then you have to pack up and go on the road to get to College Park. It’s just another obstacle and we’re just planning to fight through it and play basketball.”
The MPSAA was looking for uniformity when it decided to split the regions into two sections. Because not all the schools in the various regions play in the same league and often don't have common opponents, it's difficult to gauge by a team's record which should be awarded the highest seed.
In any sport, there are some leagues or counties that aren't as strong as others. So a team could build an impressive record in a weaker league/county and be in a region with a team from a much stronger league that has a lesser record.
Does the team with the better record automaticaly deserve the higher seed?
The MPSAA felt alternating the site year by year was the best option, and there's also an option to have the region title game played at a neutral or central site if it was agreed upon and submitted prior to the start of a given season.
“There are a hundred different ways how to do it and we want to at least have some uniformity," MPSAA executive director Ned Sparks said. "So we can provide it – here’s the uniformity. And there’s also a way to have a different plan, but you got to have that in place and you got to send that in and everybody has to be aware of it prior to the start of the season.”
That neutral or central site options weren't explored in the Class 3A East for boys basketball going into the season, so undefeated City hits the road for Friday's 6 p.m. game against Reservoir, which comes into the game as defending region champs on a 12-game winning streak.
"Everyone has to stay focused it and use it as fuel and play ball to the best of our ability," Wade said.