Second season is here
Girls basketball teams prepare for regional postseason play
Basketball teams around the state have no more chances for nearwins or moral victories. It is win or go home and the coaches are making sure their players realize it.
The Maryland girls bas- ketball playoffs are final- ly here as the Maryland Public Secondary Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association released the brackets on Tuesday.
Region play around the state kicks off with a slew of section quarterfinal games on Friday night and several girls teams in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference begin their journey to Tow- son University’s SECU Arena, site of the state semifinal and championship games.
After capping off per- fect runs through their respective SMAC divi- sional schedules for the second straight season, North Point and Chopti- con again boast the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the Class 4A East Section II bracket.
The Eagles (20-3 over- all), who defeated the Braves 62-60 in the SMAC championship game on Wednesday night, earned a section quarterfinal bye and will host the winner of Friday night’s Anne Arundel County quarter- final matchup between fourth-seeded South Riv- er and fifth-seeded Broadneck on Monday in the section semifinals scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Chopticon (20-3) also had a bye and will host Friday’s section quar- terfinal game that has third-seeded Leonardtown (15-7) playing host to sixth-seeded Annapolis in Monday’s section semifinals at 6 p.m. The Leonardtown-Annapolis contest is set for 5 p.m. Friday.
If Leonardtown beats Annapolis, it will mark the fourth time the Raid- ers and Braves match up this season with Chopti- con having won the previ- ous three.
If the Eagles and Braves win their respective play- off openers, they will see each other in a rematch for the section champion- ship at North Point with the winner advancing to the 4A East title game to face a team from Anne Arundel County where Old Mill and Severna Park are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in Section I, respectively.
Old Mill defeated North Point 58-54 on Dec. 29 in the Waldorf Holiday Hoops tournament. The two teams could very well meet in a rematch of last year’s regional final where the Eagles won 54-52.
“Obviously we wanted the first seed and to play at home, but the focus is improve everyday one game at a time and take no opponent lightly,” Chopticon head coach Joe Cook said. “The region is very competitive and we understand how great North Point and Old Mill, however we don’t fear them, we respect them. North Point has made a great run the last decade and our goal is to get where they are and to accomplish some things they’ve achieved.”
North Point, which has won five region titles in six years, including a state title in 2013.
“This was another good test for us going into the playoffs,” said North Point head coach Michael Serpone after Wednesday night’s nail-biting win over Chopticon.
While the Eagles and Braves were the top teams in their Potomac and Chesapeake divisions, respectively, each finishing 12-0 in division play, they are not the only two squads with state title aspirations.
Thomas Stone (16-5) in the top-seed in the 2A South Region Section I bracket and takes on the winner of Friday’s section quarterfinal game between fifth-seeded La Pla- ta (3-19) at fourth-seeded Lackey (3-19) in the semi- finals at 6 p.m. Monday. The La Plata-Lackey matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.
The Cougars are led by senior guard Octavia Hawkins, who is averag- ing 20.7 points per game.
“It is a great feeling to get the top seed and home court advantage,” Stone head coach Jermel Escalera said. “We have worked hard to attain it and it finally experience it. However, we remain humble because no win is guaranteed. They must be earned and we must stay focused on the respective game before us. We have high expecta- tions and hopes to reach the covenant state crown. We know it will require hard work, team work and God’s favor.”
Westlake (14-8), which was swept by Stone in both regular season meetings, is the second seed and is scheduled to take on the winner of Fri- day’s section quarterfinal game that has sixth-seeded Patuxent (0-19) at third-seeded Calvert (138) in Monday’s semifi- nals set for 6:30 p.m. The Patuxent-Calvert matchup is slated for 6 p.m. Friday.
Calvert held off Stone 51-50 in a regular season meeting on Dec. 14, but lost to Westlake 62-51 in a Jan. 6 clash.
“We have to be more focused defensively, get stops and close out the whole possession without giving up offensive rebounds,” Calvert head coach Tim Contee said. “This team will go as far as their attitudes energy and effort will take them. If they do that, we have a chance to have success.”
Prince George’s Coun- ty’s Gwynn Park and Lar- go, the defending 2A state champions, are the top two seeds in Section II of the bracket.
In the 3A South Section II bracket, Great Mills (10-9) earned the second seed and will host Mon- day against the winner of Friday night’s section quarterfinal game that has sixth-seeded Northern (5-16) at third-seeded Huntingtown (11-10), scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“We want to take it one game at a time and emphasize what brought us success this season and that is tough defense and pushing the ball up the floor,” Great Mills head coach Matt Wood said. “Oxon Hill is very tough in the region, but it should be interesting to watch.”
Oxon Hill of Prince George’s County is the top seed in the section and will host Monday against the winner of Friday’s section quarterfinal clash pitting fifth-seeded Potomac at fourth-seeded St. Charles (11-11), scheduled for 6 p.m.
McDonough (6-15) is the second seed in the 1A North Region Section II bracket and will host No. 3 Fairmont Heights of Prince George’s County in the section semifinals on Monday, scheduled for 6 p.m.
Each team in that bracket received a section quar- terfinal bye. The Fairmont Heights-McDonough winner advances to the section final Wednesday to face the winner of the other section semifinal that has top-seeded Chesapeake Math & IT host- ing fourth-seeded Sur- rattsville, both of Prince George’s County.
Private schools in playoffs, too
St. Mary’s Ryken had its season ended by Holy Cross of Montgomery County in a 60-39 loss in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tour- nament, play-in game on Wednesday evening. The Knights, the ninth seed, finish at 5-20, 2-16 WCAC.
King’s Christian (20-7), champions of the Metro Independent Schools Athletic League, is slated to head on to the Maryland Christian Schools state tournament as the top seed and has a bye in the opening round and will open play on March 2.
Grace Christian (9-11), which fell to King’s Christian in the MISAL semifinals, is scheduled to play in the Mid-Eastern Regional Christian Schools tournament from March 2 to 4.