Final 4 set in MIAA A Conference basketball tournament

The Baltimore Sun

Weather pending, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference basketball playoffs move to the semifinals on Thursday with No. 2 Mount St. Joseph (27-4) playing host to No. 15 John Carroll (23-13) and defending champion and No. 10 St. Frances (23-11) traveling to No. 3 Calvert Hall (26-4).

Both games are set for 7 p.m., but please check back for updates if the winter weather forces postponements.

Here's a breakdown of the two semifinal games:

John Carroll at Mount St. Joseph

The Patriots, seeded fifth, reached the semifinals with a sturdy, 47-39 road win over fourth-seed Archbishop Spalding on Tuesday.

Junior guard Kimbal Mackenzie scored 20 points to lead the way. John Carroll and Mount St. Joseph split two games during the regular season, with both teams winning at home.

After the Patriots beat the Gaels, 47-39, on Dec. 20 in Bel Air, Mount St. Joseph came away with a decisive, 62-42 win on Jan. 31. The home court has been a big advantage for the Gaels, who went 11-1 in their new gym this season.

Senior guard Phil Booth is the team's catalyst with fine all-around play at both ends. The Gaels have plenty of depth and athleticism, which will be difficult for the Patriots to match. Jaylen Adams and Jordan McNeil are the home team's other standouts.

John Carroll will need to slow the tempo and play their typical solid defense to keep the score down.  Mackenzie is the catalyst and forward Mike Tretsea provides an inside presence.

St. Frances at Calvert Hall

The Panthers struggled down the stretch, losing their last three regular season games before playing at a high level in a 74-55 quarerfinal round win over Mount Carmel on Tuesday to advance.

In Sunday's regular season finale, the Cardinals came back from a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat St. Frances, 69-62, with junior Drew Edwards leading the way with 21 points.

The teams match up fairly well, so it could come down to which team executes in the final minutes and wants the game more.

St. Frances senior Dwayne Morgan, who finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds in the Panthers' win over Mount Carmel, has the ability to dominate when he's on the top of his game.  Sophomore guard Khalil Richards, out for more than a week with a concussion, could return to give the Panthers a significant boost. 

The Cardinals have relied on their depth all season, with different players stepping up.  Forwards Nico Clareth and Chris Wallace also had a big game in Sunday's win.

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