By Daniel Fama
BALTIMORE -- A pair of successful seasons have positioned the Montgomery Raptors (No. 1 seed) and Prince George's Owls (No. 2 seed) as top seeds heading into NJCAA Region XX Division III Men's Basketball Tournament.
A first-round bye has the Raptors awaiting to play the winner of No. 4 seed Penn Highlands Black Bears and No. 5 seed CCAC Boyce St. Bernards. The ensuing matchup is set for this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Later in the day, the Owls will take on the host team, No. 3 seed Westmoreland Wolfpack at 4:00 p.m.
The Raptors enter this year's tournament looking to repeat as championships, having beat the Owl's last year 98-85 in overtime. However, the Owls have had their own share of success in recent Region XX Division III tournaments, appearing in four straight title games and is a seven-time tournament champion.
In an earlier matchup this season, Montgomery beat Penn Highlands 107-94 behind the efforts of Freddie Harris, who recorded a double-double on 21 points and 10 rebounds. In a potential rematch, the Raptors will have to prepare for another strong performance by Penn Highlands' Antonio Carter. The promising freshman recorded 37 points and went 10-15 from three-point range in the previous matchup.
The Raptors would not have the same experience heading into a potential matchup with No. 5 seed CCAC Boyce, as the teams have no previous meetings this season.
Prince George's will face a familiar foe come Saturday, as the Owls defeated the Westmoreland Wolfpack in last year's tournament 82-69 to advance to the championship. The Owls have also experienced success against the Wolfpack this season, winning 82-69 earlier in the year behind a near triple-double effort by Gus Stone (21 points, nine rebounds, eight assists). If the Wolfpack hope to flip the script, they will need better contributions from its bench, which only scored seven points in the earlier meeting.
The Men's championship is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Sunday at Westmorland Community College.