Class 2A North tournament loaded with top teams

Region features three of last year's state champions

BCL matchups set

February 26, 2010|By By Glenn Graham

Every four years, when the teams are placed in their respective groups for the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, one is traditionally designated "the group of death," based on the quality of teams that are in it.

If the term were to be applied to this year's Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association boys basketball regional tournament, set to begin Saturday, one region easily qualifies - the Class 2A North.

Because of realignments this school year based on enrollment numbers, three of last year's state champions now play in the 2A North, and that's just the beginning of the deep and talented 11-team field.

No. 5 City (18-2) is the defending Class 2A champ, No. 3 Lake Clifton (14-5) dropped down after capturing the 3A title last year, and No. 9 Digital Harbor (17-4) moved up after winning the crown in 1A last year.

Also included is No. 6 Edmondson (15-2), fresh off an impressive 58-56 overtime win over Lake Clifton to capture the program's first Baltimore City championship; No. 14 Douglass (15-3); and Randallstown (16-7), which put a scare into No. 8 Milford Mill before falling, 59-57, in Tuesday's Baltimore County championship game.

"It has to be one of the hardest regions - ever," Lake Clifton coach Herman "Tree" Harried said. "It's really a state championship in itself."

It also will be a treat for fans of Baltimore basketball, a game-by-game showcase of talent, including Lake Clifton's Josh Selby, Digital Harbor's Davon Usher, City's Jordan Latham, Edmondson's Rodney Pratcher and Stanton Kidd, and many more.

"It's going to be a battle we look forward to," Edmondson coach Darnell Dantzler said. "That's what the games are played for. You have to make sure you take it on a day-by-day, game-by-game basis. We know we're going to have to spend all our energy every game and know two days later, we'll have to do it all over again."

City earned the No. 1 seed in the region with Edmondson at No. 2, Digital Harbor third and Lake Clifton the fourth seed. Two potential second-round games are Randallstown at City and Douglass traveling to Edmondson.

Whichever team survives will be the heavy favorite to win the Class 2A state title.

"I think being that battle-tested, after you come out of that region, you'll be ready to deal with anything. I've never seen anything like that region," Harried said.

BCL seedings set
After successfully defending its Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship with a 63-56 win over Mount St. Joseph on Sunday, the No. 1 St. Frances boys basketball team now turns its attention to repeating as Baltimore Catholic League champion.

The quest begins Saturday when the BCL quarterfinals take place at Loyola University's Reitz Arena. St. Frances will meet St. Maria Goretti at 5 p.m., followed by No. 4 Calvert Hall vs. Loyola at 6:45 p.m. and Cardinal Gibbons vs. Archbishop Spalding at 8:30 p.m.

Top seed Mount St. Joseph earned a first-round bye. The semifinals are set for Sunday (6:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.), followed by the championship game at 7 p.m. Monday.

"We got some good things done last week, and we've set goals for ourselves," St. Frances coach Mark Karcher said. "When the season started, we looked forward to being in championship games, but we know we have to take one game at a time. One thing about the Baltimore Catholic League is you never know. You may beat a team all year long, but kids get up for this time of the year, so we're working hard to get ready."

St. Frances, No. 2 Mount St. Joseph, which earned the top seed with a 12-0 record in the BCL, and No. 4 Calvert Hall figure to again be the major players in the tournament. As it unfolded in last weekend's MIAA tournament, St. Frances and Calvert Hall are likely to meet in the semifinals with Mount St. Joseph getting the Gibbons-Spalding winner.

A key concern for Calvert Hall is the health of standout senior center Jonathan Graham, who missed Wednesday's game against Spalding with an ailing back. He's expected to be ready to go for the playoffs.

For Mount St. Joseph senior point guard Eric Atkins, who was named the BCL Player of the Year on Tuesday, the BCL championship provides a chance at redemption for him and the Gaels.

"I'm looking forward to going out on top and winning the championship. That's the main focus of the team and the only goal that we have right now," he said.

"It's a big motivation that we lost on Sunday, and we're itching to get back on the court. We want to get back to the championship and hopefully have a different outcome."

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