Massanutten Military Academy’s postgraduate boys basketball team saw its season come to an end a win short of reaching the program’s first-ever National Prep Championship tournament finals.
The Colonels, who picked up their first tournament win in the quarterfinals on Wednesday afternoon at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, fell to Brewster Academy (New Hampshire), 91-73, in Thursday morning’s semifinals.
MMA head coach Chad Myers said in a phone interview after the loss that the Colonels weren’t fooled by Brewster’s low seed – the Bobcats needed to win a Wednesday morning play-in game over IMG Academy (Florida) before toppling Woodstock Academy (Connecticut), 82-80, in the quarterfinals – and were aware that Brewster, ranked No. 1 in the preseason Prep Circuit Postgrad Power 10, was “arguably the most talented team in the country on paper.”
Brewster, who entered the tournament having won five National Prep Championship titles since 2010, advanced to the championship game later Thursday night against Scotland Campus Sports (Pennsylvania).
Myers said the margin for error in the Final Four was slim, and Massanutten (32-4) simply left too many points on the floor against Brewster.
“I felt like that was kind of the story of the game is that they made some tough shots and we missed easy plays and free throws,” Myers said. “As talented as they are, we couldn’t really do that and have a chance to win a Final Four game. And it was unfortunate because I thought we had played really well and we actually got shots we want, we just couldn’t finish plays and make free throws.”
MMA trailed by 14 points with seven minutes remaining and trimmed Brewster’s lead to 9 points five times over the last 5:30 of the game, but the Colonels never got closer than that. Massanutten missed several chip shots inside during their comeback attempt and made just five of 10 free throws during that span.
Brewster, which closed the game on an 11-2 run after Dereon Seabron’s two-handed dunk pulled MMA within 80-71 with 1:20 to play, made 12 of 14 free throws over the last 1:39. Bobcats guard Jalen Lecque — who, like Seabron, is an N.C. State commit – capped Brewster’s win with a windmill dunk off an MMA turnover with 10 seconds to play.
Myers said the Colonels opened Thursday’s game with a 5-0 lead but went into halftime trailing 39-30.
“I thought there was a lot of big swings in the game. We were trying to take the last shot, we took it a little bit quicker than we wanted to at the end of the first half, and instead of us cutting it to four or five they went down and made a tough shot at the buzzer and made it nine,” Myers said.
“It’s hard to point out which plays made the difference in the game. I thought we had numerous opportunities to kind of convert and ended up them making a shot on the other end, which really hurt us.”
Jarren McAllister, a Virginia Commonwealth University signee, led Massanutten with 26 points and Seabron added 20 for the Colonels in the loss. Those two each scored 26 points in Wednesday’s 87-84 quarterfinal win over Mount Zion Prep (Maryland), the first National Prep Championship tournament win for the Colonels in five trips under Myers.
Myers called the Final Four appearance “another step forward for us.”
“It’s kind of been a monkey on our back, and for us to say we don’t think about it, or for me to say (that) – the good thing is it’s always a new team (each year) for the most part, so those guys might not realize it, but obviously as a program we realize we’re trying to make the next step,” Myers said. “Now I guess we gotta win the Thursday morning game to get to the championship game.”