The Gaithersburg High School girls basketball will begin its quest for a second consecutive Class 4A state championship a week from Monday as the top seed in the 4A West Region. The Trojans and the rest of the state's basketball teams learned their playoff paths on Sunday as the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association released the regional tournament brackets.
The Trojans (21-0), who defeated 4A South Region top seed Henry A. Wise (20-1) in the state final last March, received a first-round bye and will play the winner of Friday's first-round game between Magruder (3-18) and Whitman (12-9).
The top half of the 4A West bracket also includes fourth-seeded Blair (17-4), which will play Bethesda-Chevy Chase (2-20) in first round action Friday, as well as Winston Churchill (17-4), which will face Quince Orchard (5-16) in a first-round contest.
“It breaks down pretty well,” Trojans coach Adrian McDaniel said of the playoff draw. “All the teams we're going to be playing, we've played so far. We match up well all of those teams. If we communicate, execute and defend, we'll be fine.”
The top four seeds in each region go to the teams with the four best records. Most top-four seeds receive first-round byes. The remaining teams are placed in the brackets by a random draw and will be in action for first-round games on Friday.
Northwest (18-3) secured the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye and will play host to the winner of Friday's game between Thomas S. Wootton (7-15) and Richard Montgomery (9-12).
Walter Johnson (16-3) surged to the No. 3 seed with eight consecutive wins and received a first-round bye. The Wildcats will face the winner of Clarksburg (8-13) vs. Kennedy (10-11).
Here is a rundown of the rest of the regional tournaments that include teams from The Gazette's coverage area, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George's counties:
The final standings in the Prince George's County's 4A League translated into the top four seeds Wise (20-1 overall, 18-0 league), Charles H. Flowers (18-2, 16-2), Bowie (16-5, 14-4) and Suitland (14-6, 13-5) took the top four spots. All 12 teams in the region are from Prince George's County.
“[The draw] is what I expected,” said Wise assistant coach Addison Shepard. “We're just about where we want to be. We have to fine-tune a little but we've got time to do that. Hopefully, we'll get that done.”
The Pumas will face the winner of Friday's game between Eleanor Roosevelt (13-8) and struggling Northwestern (1-16). Wise upended Roosevelt by 10 in the teams' only regular season meeting.
Suitland (14-6) also received a bye into next Monday's quarterfinals and it awaits the winner of DuVal (4-17) vs. Parkdale (11-11).
Second-seeded Flowers (18-2) and third-seeded Bowie (16-5) received first-round byes. The Jaguars will play host to the winner of Friday's game between High Point (2-15) and Laurel (10-11), while the Bulldogs await the winner of the Oxon Hill (0-15) vs. Bladensburg (8-14) game.
Montgomery County's other four 4A squads, James Hubert Blake, Paint Branch, Sherwood and Springbrook, will play in the 4A North, where Baltimore City's Poly and Baltimore County's Catonsville are the top two seeds.
Paint Branch (16-5) secured the fourth seed and will take on Kenwood, while Sherwood (10-12) will face Southwestern during Friday's first round.
Springbrook (14-7) will square off with Blake (4-17) in a first-round contest with the winner visiting Catonsville.
Fresh off its upset win against Gwynn Park (20-2) last Thursday, Friendly (17-4) grabbed the top seed in the 3A South Region. The nine-team bracket also includes Crossland (11-10) and Potomac (2-17).
Crossland opens Friday against Northern (12-9). Potomac will travel to third-seeded Westlake (15-7) next Monday. Friendly opens play in the semifinals against the Crossland-Northern winner.
Damascus coach Steve Pisarski said the 3A West Region includes talented squads up and down the bracket, including eighth-seeded Thomas Johnson (8-14) and ninth-seeded Watkins Mill (12-10), his team's potential quarterfinal opponents.
“We haven't had the No. 1 seed in a number of years,” said Pisarski, whose squad is 18-4 and has the top seed. “We get the winner of Thomas Johnson and Watkins Mill, which could be a little scarier. We haven't seen TJ, but they play good competition every night. They're battle tested.
“Watkins Mill just beat Churchill in a game Churchill desperately needed [for seeding purposes]. I'm not really looking past that, but I think Frederick and Urbana, being on the other side of the bracket, get to battle it out.”
Fourth-seeded Seneca Valley (15-7) will face Einstein (5-16) in a first-round game Friday, and South Hagerstown will play host to Tuscarora (2-17).
Frederick (17-5) secured the No. 2 seed through a coin flip with No. 3 seed Urbana (18-4). The two squads split their two regular season meetings.
The Cadets will play at home on Feb. 27 against the winner of Friday's game between Rockville (4-15) and Northwood (3-19). The Hawks received a first-round bye and also are idle until next Monday, when they will play host to the winner of Friday's game between Linganore (10-12) and North Hagerstown.
“It would have been nice [to win the coin toss] but that's literally how the coin landed,” said Urbana coach Jessica Mills. “Every single game is going to be a challenge for us, especially to go to Frederick if we are able to.”
Gwynn Park coach Michael Strother said his squad lost a Sunday coin toss and settled for the No. 3 seed behind Glenelg (22-1) and Calvert (21-1).
“Calvert is one of the toughest places to play,” Strother said. “They got us last year. We'll give it our best shot. I think the 2A South is the toughest bracket in the 2A with us, Glenelg, Oakland Mills and Calvert. Home court advantage is crucial.”
The Yellow Jackets (20-2) received a first-round bye and will play the winner of Friday's game between Frederick Douglass (7-13) and Central (6-16).
Largo (14-7) will open its playoff run Friday with a home game against McDonough (9-13). The Lions have won six of their last seven games, including an upset victory of 3A South top seed Friendly.
Catoctin coach Amy Entwistle and Poolesville coach Fred Swick said the 2A West Region is loaded with teams that could walk away with the regional crown.
“I really think the region is really up in the air right now,” Entwistle said. “When you look at Oakdale, they went on a tear and beat us and beat [top-seeded] Century. I think it's anybody's region to win. If we play to our potential, we might surprise some people.”
Catoctin (14-6) has the No. 3 seed and awaits the winner of Friday's game between South Carroll (10-6) and Winters Mill. Poolesville (16-5) secured the No. 2 seed and a bye and will face the winner of Fridays game between Wheaton (0-19) and resurgent Oakdale (12-10).
“There a lot of capable teams in our region,” Swick said. “It's great to get a bye and hopefully a couple of home games. It's a fairly deep region. There is no real super team but a lot of real solid teams.”
Century (16-1) has the top seed and will play at home in the quarterfinals against the Liberty-Francis Scott Key winner. Fourth-seeded Middletown (14-8) awaits the winner of Friday's game between Walkersville (15-7) and Williamsport.
The region is divided into East and West Sectionals. Brunswick (5-13) is the fifth seed in the East Sectional and will face fourth-seeded Manchester Valley on Friday.
Surrattsville (15-5) claimed the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. The Hornets will be at home on Feb. 27 against the winner of Friday's game between two Baltimore City schools, Reginald Lewis and W.E.B. DuBois.
Forestville (7-13) and Fairmont Heights (3-16) play Friday with the winner traveling to top-seeded Dunbar in Baltimore on Feb. 27.