While South River's boys basketball team is having one of those fairy-tale seasons, the girls squad continues its quest for respectability despite countless misfortunes.
Don't cry too quickly for the young Seahawks, though. Despite their 6-11 record (after Friday's 61-51 loss to North County), multiple injuries and early season setbacks, Coach Jim Morton's charges remain in the hunt for a spot in the upcoming Class 3A Region IV playoffs.
As of Thursday, South River held the sixth and final playoff spot, ahead of St. Mary's County's Great Mills. Thomas Stone and McDonough (both of Charles County), Leonardtown (St. Mary's County), Calvert County and Douglass (Prince George's County) are first through fifth in the regional standings.
However, the road to the postseason promises to be a bumpy one, at best, for South River. The Seahawks, who qualified for the playoffs last season with a 9-13 mark, will face Bay Division opponents Broadneck (12-3), Northeast (10-6), Southern (10-6), and Arundel (10-7), before entertaining lowly Queen Anne's in the season finale.
The Hawks dropped three of five games against these teams earlier in the season, losing to Broadneck, 50-29, Southern,45-36, and Northeast, 48-39, and defeating Arundel, 52-37, and QueenAnne's, 49-28.
Morton called the Arundel victory "one of our better games of the year."
"The only team out of that group that ran over us was Broadneck," he said. "So, I think we'll be at least competitive in all of those games. We were ahead of Northeast and Southern at halftime, so I know we can play with these teams. It's just a matter of us getting off to a good start in each game."
As has been the case most of the season, Morton's club will start each game with just eight healthy members. Sophomore Chiara Lee may be out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury, while two others left the team before the beginning of the season -- one because of health problems,the other due to a transfer.
"One of the advantages of having just seven is that they are well-conditioned. They know that they're going to have to push themselves," said Morton.
The 14-year coach also said that his team has been forced to become a bit more flexible after encountering the setbacks.
"The girls have done a pretty good job of adapting to these situations," he said. "After we lost our center (Pam Patterson, who returned to action Friday with seven points),our point guard (co-captain Tracy Zettle) had to drop back and play the big girl. It took her the whole game and a half just to get used to the position.
"Whenever we tried to break their press, she would instinctively run to her old position and take the ball out, instead of going where the center is supposed to go. And that kind of stopped our flow."
Zettle said, "We've gone through so many changes this year. It's like, once you get used to things, then all of a sudden someone gets hurt, then he (Morton) has to change the lineup and everything, so it has been kind of hard."
While co-captain Peggy Schreiber has been the team's most consistent scorer, averaging 11 points per game, Morton has also been impressed by the play of freshman guards Cassidie Dunbar (20 points against North County) and Kim Morehead and sophomore guard Paula McDonald.
"We have a very young team, soregardless of what we finish up this year, with the addition of one or two other bodies next year, we'll be very competitive," said Morton.
To make up for what they lack in overall size, experience, and outside shooting, the Seahawks have had to rely on a variety of defenses and overall team quickness.
"Most of our points have come fromlayups," Morton said. "We're not what you would call a half-court offensive team, because I don't have any one person who I can say, 'Here, go in there and put it in the basket.' "
Shortcomings aside, Morton thinks his squad has just as good a chance as any to walk away with the region crown -- providing it can pick up a couple of wins during the home stretch.
"We know we can play with the teams in our region," Morton said. "We beat Leonardtown twice, and they're third sofar, and we beat Calvert in a preseason scrimmage. So we know we cando well. But we have to win at least two or three of our remaining games to get in, and I think we have a legitimate shot at it."