Clarksburg Boys Basketball Reaches 4A West Regional Final
Of the 32 teams left competing in the MPSSAA boys basketball playoffs across its four classifications, 27 of them were given first round ranks of either #1 or #2.
That leaves just five schools which have defied the expectations of their ranking and are still playing postseason basketball. Clarksburg is one of those teams. The Coyotes finished the regular season 14-8 which earned the team the #4 ranking in its section.
"We felt we had a strong group that could make a deep run in the tournament if we played well," Clarksburg's head coach G.J. Kissal said.
The Coyotes have done just that. The team has reeled off three straight wins, the last two of which were against teams of higher rankings, to reach the 4A West regional final.
Clarksburg's last regional final appearance came in 2014. There are some carry overs from that team on this year's Coyotes squad, which has helped the team make its current run.
"We have a confident group that's been through this before," Kissal said. "We knew if we played well, we could make a run."
The team has been led by a trio of players who have all averaged double digit points this season. Loyola commit Andrew Kostecka leads the way with 19 points per game, while Ian Krishnan averages 13. Dallas Marshall has also put together an excellent season, averaging 10 points and seven rebounds a game.
"We like to play aggressively, offensively and defensively," Kissal said. "We try to take pride in our defense and let the offensive end take care of itself."
The group has been playing well for the past week in its three playoff wins. After beating Wootton at home 63-56 in its first round contest, the Coyotes came up against Quince Orchard, the section's top ranked team. The team had gone 1-1 against Quince Orchard during the regular season, but had lost in overtime against the Cougars just 12 days prior. Clarksburg did just enough, pulling out a 52-50 win to keep its postseason alive.
After Quince Orchard, Clarksburg traveled to Gaithersburg for the sectional final. It was a tough match-up for the Coyotes- Gaithersburg had swept the season series between the two teams.
This time, Kissal decided to switch up the team's defensive strategy in the hopes of creating a different outcome.
"We employed more zone defense in the early stages of the game, but finished with our man to man," Kissal said.
The change in tactics worked as Clarksburg pulled out another two point win, 62-60.
The Coyotes now find themselves in the regional final against Whitman, another team that is lower than a #2 seed. It's a special opportunity for Clarksburg's players- many of them have played together since elementary school. Kissal says the Coyotes' starting five have played together since they were in third and fourth grade.
The group now has the opportunity to play for some serious postseason hardware, and the chance to reach the state semifinals.
"We're excited to have the opportunity to play on this stage again after losing in the regional final two years ago," Kissal said.
|March 4th, 2016||By: Wick Eisenberg|