The MPSSAA playoffs kicks off tomorrow with teams across the state hitting the hardwood with dreams of becoming state champions. SportsMajors.com takes closer look at match-ups for local teams and gives predictions on who will represent the Baltimore Area from each region.
1A North/Section 1: I must admit this particular section is difficult to evaluate. Not one team has a win over a top 10 opponent and depending on what publication you frequent, a top 25 opponent. Hopefully i’m not jinxing Coach English’s squad by saying we don’t see any reason why #1 seed Randallstown isn’t in the 1A North finals. The 16-6 Rams already defeated 4 of the 7 teams in Section 1. The victories include double digit wins over Caver A&T, Overlea, and Western Tech. Chesapeake was the only opponent to play Randallstown competitively losing 34-32. The Rams success will rely heavily on seniors Cameron Issacs, Eric Bazemore, and Ryzshaud Thornton.
A possible upset could occur in second round if #2 Pikesville and #3 Overlea take care of business on Friday. The Panthers defeated the Falcons in a close contest 67-63 during the regular season. I see this possible matchup game being a fight until the end.
Prediction: Randallstown wins 1A North/Section 1
1A North/Section 2: Previously one of the last undefeated teams in the Baltimore Area, #1 seed Dunbar struggled down the stretch losing 3 of their last 5 games. The Poets are dealing with some injury issues and are in definite need of a confidence booster. Since Dunbar’s back to back state championships in 2012 and 2013 the Poets playoff appearance has been sub-par. How far the Poets go will collectively be determined by Dashawn Phillip, Malik McCormick, and Jamal West Jr.
Three teams you really need to pay attention to are Fredrick Douglass, Ben Franklin, and Baltimore City Division II champions NAF. The Mighty Ducks are scrappy team with a notable win over a talented Patterson squad. Coach Bizzelle’s boys also played a solid Edmondson-Westside team close losing by 2. NAF may be the surprise of the season after capturing the Baltimore City Division II championship over Digital Harbor. Many were expecting a talented Rams team to take the title.
Prediction: Poets take 1A North/Section 2
2A North/Section 1: This section is all chalk with #1 seed New Town meeting #2 seed Edmondson in the 2A North/ Section 1 final. Here’s where things get interesting. New Town has solid wins versus Baltimore County runner-up Dundalk and Randallstown. The Titans also played #8 Milford competitively twice during the regular season despite ending in losses. Let’s be honest, this isn’t Coach Daniels 2016 State championship team. But the Titans play hard as a unit and are equipped with one of the best coaches in high school basketball. I can’t confirm or deny if this is Coach Mike Daniels last season but can I tell you the Titans will defend their butts off.
As for the Red Storm, Its been an interesting season for the 2017 Class 1A runner ups. Just two games into the regular season schedule Coach Danzler pulled his Edmondson squad off Lake Clifton’s court in Lavar Ball fashion. Coach wasn’t happy with the officiating. The Red Storm would later record 2 solid wins against #10 City College and #7 Milford Mill. Edmondson’s Teon Gardner’s play is the key to the Red Storm’s success. But Gardner will need some help from his teammates. This is a great time for solid players such as Shawn Evans, Deshawn Ruffin, and Antonio Fliggins to make their mark.
Prediction: Edmondson wins 2A North/Section 1
2A North/Section 2: Lake Clifton Lakers had a couple of hiccups during the latter part of their schedule. The Lakers ended the regular season dropping two of their last three games. On a positive note those two losses were opponents who are currently ranked in the top ten. I don’t foresee Coach Harried’s team having any problem making it to the Section II final. The Lakers suits-up a talented starting 5 with a veteran savvy backcourt of Steven Parker and Ben Carter; in addition to Michael Gray, Armon Harried, and Ronald Lucas Jr. Respectfully, both Central and Carver Vo Tech have losing records. We don’t expect their shinning moment to occur against the Lakers. Remember, Lake Clifton has wins over #3 Poly and Edmondson.
On the bottom half of the Section II bracket there’s likely an interesting match-up between #3 seed Patterson and #2 seed Gwynn Park. The Clippers are the defending Class 2A champions on paper but the current team is polar opposite from the Marvin Price led title holders. Patterson only recorded 9 wins this year, including losing 4 of their last 5 games. In order to avoid an early exit Patterson needs Zack Blackwell, TJ Thomas, and Gerard Mungo to be effective on both ends of the court.
As for Gwynn Park, one thing we don’t do is under estimate a Mike Glick program. The Yellowjackets finished 11-11 with no notable victories on their schedule. They also lost 4 of their last 5 games of the season. The Yellowjackets recent best player, Justin Faison , graduated last year and is playing for Elizabeth City State.
Prediction: Lake Clifton wins 2A North/Section 2
3A North/Section 1: All Roads lead to a rematch between #1 seed Milford Mill and #2 seed Woodlawn. The rival teams were supposed to play in the Baltimore County Championship game Tuesday night at Towson University. But Milford was forced to forfeit a win versus Dundalk due to an ineligible player. We talked to several Warriors players at Towson who mentioned they want play the Millers in the Maryland State tournament. I think Woodlawn’s wishes will be granted. Milford Mill defeated the county champs earlier in the season at home 65-60. The second match-up could either way. Woodlawn will have to find a way to stop St Frances transfer Jordan Goodwin and Ugo Obasi. The senior guards have been ripping up the county as the Millers’ scoring leaders. Woodlawn can counter with their version of the Big “3”. Much of the Warriors scoring is attributed to Mark Brinkley, Reshuad Garrison, and Demauri Warren. If this game was played 10 times the series would probably split 5-5.
Prediction: Woodlawn takes 3A North/Section 1
3A North/Section 2: Again, another chalk bracket! We don’t see any reason #1 and #2 seeds aren’t battling in the section 2 final. Dundalk is a resilient team that depends heavily on the 3 ball. Junior guard Jaylon Johnson and senior Gates Cook typically head the long distance assault. But as the saying goes “You live by the 3 you die by the 3.” Which could be the case against a more balanced C Milton Wright team. The Mustangs finished 18-4 this year and are currently on an 8 game winning streak. The Harford County team has some board controlling bigs which could play a factor in the possible match up. Mustangs Imran Husain normally produces the bulk of the team’s scoring, while Britt Lindsey is the spot up shooter who lives the deep corners.
Prediction: C Milton Wright takes 3A North/Section 2
4A North/Section 1: Sitting on a bye #1 Dulaney will probably face Catonsville again in the second round. The Comets host a two-win Howard Lions team which we expect Catonsville to take care of business. Unfortunately, Dulaney is waiting for the Comets next. The Lions already defeated Catonsville by 30 on the road earlier in the season. We think its safe to pencil Dulaney into the 4A North/Section I final.
Waiting on the Lions will be the winner between #2 Perry Hall and #3 Mervo. This game features some of the top prospects in the state with Perry Hall’s Anthony Higgs (Ole Miss Commit), Laquille Hardnett, Anthony Walker and Mervo’s Will Thomas. The defending 4A state champions finished with a solid 16-6 record. With that said, it seems like the Gators are still suffering from state champion hangover. At times, Perry Hall looked disinterested or going through the motions in some games. Maybe the state tournament will provide the motivation to get the Gators swag back.
As for Mervo, the Mustangs definitely were blessed with highly recruited Will Thomas into their program this season. The 6-4 guard/forward has an uncandidly ability to pass or score based on the situation. Mervo also has some height that can contend with Perry Hall’s size. The Newman brothers will need to assist Will in controlling the boards if this match-up takes place. Looking at the Mustangs schedule, Mervo hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent all season.
In summary, We will probably see a Baltimore County match-up between Dulaney and Perry Hall. The Gators squeaked by the Lions on the road 80-77 during the regular season. This may not be the case during the tournament.
Prediction: Dulaney 4A North/Section 1
As the tournament progresses we will break down Regional finals match-up ato Final match-up in each class.