With the regular season coming to a close Tuesday night, county basketball teams are shifting focus to the part of the schedule every team thinks about before the preseason even begins: the playoffs.
Tuesday the state released the official basketball playoff brackets for all four regions with the sectional quarterfinals scheduled to start Friday.
Unlike previous years, this year all team seeds are based on their regular season record with the exclusion of holiday tournaments.
Here is the complete list of all the 4A teams from Montgomery County, their seeds and some quick facts to know about the team heading into postseason play.
4A West, Section 1
1 Richard Montgomery (19-1)
The Rockets locked up the top seed, division and a first-round bye two weeks ago with their road victory at Whitman. Senior captain and center Nick Jackson, who is averaging a little less than fourteen points a game, leads the team. The Rockets have beaten every team in their section twice with the exception of Kennedy, who they beat in their only matchup Jan. 23. Of all the teams in the section the Rockets had the most trouble with Bethesda Chevy-Chase, who they beat by seven points on the road Dec. 22 and by eight points at home in their Feb. 6 overtime game. The Rockets will play the winner of Blair and Kennedy at home on March 3 at 7 p.m.
2 Bethesda Chevy-Chase (14-4)
Senior Justin Carter (14.4 ppg) and junior Kevin Holston (12.3 ppg) lead the Barons with exciting backcourt scoring. The Barons should feel confident heading into the sectional playoffs as Richard Montgomery and Kennedy are the only two teams who defeated them within the section. After losing to Richard Montgomery more than two weeks ago, the Barons have gotten hot at the right time, winning their last four games by a total margin of 69 points. The Barons will host seven seed Walter Johnson, who they beat 52-36 on Jan. 16, Friday at 7 p.m.
3 Walt Whitman (12-8)
The defending region champions and last year’s state runners-up have not experienced the same regular season success as they did last year. Although they lost pieces from last year’s team, junior guard Shaq Diboti-Lobe – who transferred in prior to this year – has done a good job of filling that void. Diboti-Lobe finished the regular season among the top for scoring, averaging just fewer than 15 points a contest. After starting February hot with two wins, the Vikings dropped two straight games before finishing strong with wins against Kennedy and Northwood. The Vikings will be tested in the first round Saturday at 2 p.m. when they host rival Churchill, who they beat by only one point earlier this month and by three points in December.
4 Montgomery Blair (10-10)
The Blazers started their 2014-2015 campaign on an inconsistent foot during their first four games. Unfortunately for the Blazers the win/lose trend is indicative of the school’s season as a whole, as the Silver Spring team has not managed to string more than three wins together all year. But the Blazers have a chance to change that as they go for their fourth straight win Saturday at 3 p.m. in the first round. Standing in their way will be the visiting Kennedy Cavaliers, who beat Blair 77-67 back in December.
5 Kennedy (9-11)
The Cavaliers started their season blistering hot, rattling off four straight wins and going 7-3 in the first 10 games with the exclusion of the holiday tournament. But a hip injury of sophomore leading scorer Jonathan Mustamu (19.7 ppg) and inconsistent play has led the Cavaliers to back their way into the post-season after going 1-7 in February. With a healthy Mustamu back on board, Kennedy will look to get back to their early season form when they head to Blair on Saturday.
6 Churchill (4-14)
The path to Xfinity Center will be a tough one for the Bulldogs, whose only sectional wins came against seventh seed Walter Johnson. Luckily for Churchill, their first round matchup will be against Whitman, who just barely beat the Bulldogs earlier this month 47-46. The Bulldogs will undoubtedly be looking for another big performance from junior center Nathan Gertler, who had a team-high 14 points in the first matchup with Whitman. Churchill will head to Whitman Saturday for the 2 p.m. contest.
7 Walter Johnson (0-18)
Walter Johnson will head into the post-season still in search of their first win. Led by senior guard Paul Green (14.1 ppg), the Wildcats will need a complete team effort for a chance to win when they head to play B-CC Friday at 7 p.m.
4A West, Section 2
1 Magruder (17-3)
After losing to Gaithersburg last year in the sectional semi-finals, the Colonels struggled at the beginning of their 2014-2015 campaign and lost their first three games. But with Dan Harwood, arguably one of the best coaches in the county, and his star 6-foot-7 power forward Joe Hugley (17 ppg) leading the team, the Colonels have since become one of the county’s hottest teams. Since losing on Dec. 11, the Colonels have rattled off 17 consecutive regular season wins. The only two 4A public schools that beat Magruder – Springbrook and Sherwood – are on the other side of the bracket with the only chance of playing Magruder in the post-season being the state final game. Because the Colonels have the top seed they will have a first-round bye and host the winner of Clarksburg and Northwest on March 3 at 7 p.m.
2 Gaithersburg (16-4)
The Trojans fell just short of the regional championship game last season, losing the sectional finals by one point to Clarksburg. The loss fueled the team during the off-season and inspired star player 6-foot-5 Anthony Tarke to hit the weight room and take his game to another level. The result has been a spectacular year for Tarke, who leads the county in scoring. Unfortunately for the Trojans, all three teams that defeated them during the regular season are in their region: R.M., who beat the Trojans last week, Magruder, who beat them twice, and Clarksburg, who they split the season series with 1-1. Luckily for Gaithersburg, section two only has six teams, so the Trojans will have a first-round bye and host the winner of Quince Orchard and Wootton on March 3 at 7 p.m.
3 Quince Orchard (12-6)
The Cougars started this season among the hottest in the county, rattling off seven straight regular season wins. Since then the Cougars have gone through some growing pains, including their 1-3 stretch to start February. So far the Paul Foringer-led team has benefitted from a mixture of senior leadership from senior forwards Sam Ling (11.1 ppg) and Eli Maynard (9.5 ppg) and superior sophomore play from guard Matt Kelly (10.4 ppg) and forward John Fierstein (11.2 ppg). After closing the season with three losses followed by three straight wins, it will be interesting to see which Cougar squad shows up for postseason play. The Cougars will start postseason play with Wootton, who they have beaten twice this season. Q.O. will host Wootton Friday at 5:15 p.m.
4 Clarksburg (11-9)
After falling one game short of the Xfinity Center last year, some had the Coyotes tapped as preseason favorite to stay atop the 4A leader board. Clarksburg started strong but after a 4-2 start to the season, the Coyotes had a terrible start to the New Year, dropping seven games in January. February has been more favorable to the Coyotes as they go 5-0 this month. Clarksburg will look to their junior forward and Holy Cross commit Andrew Kostecka (13.8) for a big game when they host Northwest, who they split the season series with, Friday at 5:15 p.m.
5 Northwest (9-11)
Unlike the Jaguars football team, which took home their second straight state title this season, the basketball team has struggled to string wins together this year. But during their lone three-game win streak, two of the Jaguars’ victories came against teams that finished with better records than them – Sherwood and Clarksburg. The Jaguars will have a chance to prove their Jan. 16 win over Clarksburg was not a fluke when they face the Coyotes Friday at 5:15 p.m.
6 Wootton (4-16)
Although Wootton has not had much to celebrate this season in terms of wins, the Patriots are primed to pull off a first-round upset. Despite losing to Q.O. at home 65-46 at the end of January, the Patriots almost pulled off a win when they visited the Cougars on Jan. 7. In that matchup the Patriots led in the final minutes of the game before the Cougars pulled off the comeback win. The Patriots will get their chance to avenge both losses when they head to Q.O. Friday for their 5:15 p.m. matchup.
4A West, Section 2
1 Springbrook (17-3)
First-year coach Darnell Myers has picked up exactly where former coach Tom Crowell left off and has kept perennial powerhouse Springbrook among the county’s best basketball programs. The Blue Devils boast three players averaging double digits in scoring: guards Donovan Walker (13.6 ppg) and Falu Seck (10.4) and big man Aaron Burton (10.4 ppg). With impressive wins over 4A state contenders R.M. and Magruder, the Blue Devils have proven they are a force to be reckoned with. With the top seed in hand, Springbrook will have a first-round bye and host the winner of Howard and Paint Branch on March 3.
2 Sherwood (10-10)
Although the Warriors have 10 losses, only two of those came at the hands of teams within their section, Springbrook and Paint Branch, both of which they split their series with. The Warriors’ second matchup with Paint Branch was a 51 point shellacking while their loss to Springbrook was only a five-point overtime defeat. The Warriors have proven they can beat the best in their section and will look to the playoffs to prove it. Guard Xavier McCants (17.4 ppg), one of the county’s top scorers, leads the Warriors. They will host Blake on March 3 as both teams have a first-round bye.
3 Blake (9-10)
Despite their losing record, the Bengals have proven they can string wins together, going on two separate four-game win streaks this season. Luckily for Blake, because their section only has five teams they will have first-round bye before facing Sherwood in the second round. Unluckily for Blake, the Bengals have lost both their matchups with the Olney school. The Bengals will look to sophomore leading scorer Kobe Colston (12.1 ppg) to help lift them over the Warriors on March 3 when they head to Sherwood.
5 Paint Branch (7-13)
The Panthers started the season hot going 4-2 in their first six games. Although Paint Branch has cooled off since then, they have won two of their past three games. The Panthers will have to head to Howard (8-12) for their first-round matchup.