Sec­ond sea­son is here

Girls bas­ket­ball teams pre­pare for re­gional post­sea­son play

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

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.

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