McDonogh, Severn and St. Timothy's went undefeated through their respective A, B and C Conference schedules this winter and are top seeded as the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland basketball tournaments get into full swing Tuesday.
McDonogh, ranked No. 1 in The Baltimore Sun's Top 15, is aiming for its second A Conference title in three years after going 14-0 in the conference with eight of those wins over teams ranked in The Sun's Top 12.
No. 3 Roland Park, 12-2 in the conference after dropping its only conference games to McDonogh, is seeded second with No. 5 St. Vincent Pallotti (9-5) seeded third; No. 6 St. Frances (8-6), fourth; and No. 12 Seton Keough (6-8) seeded fifth.
The Eagles have had a couple of close calls against A Conference foes in the last few weeks, most notably a 49-47 win over St. Frances on Jan. 29 sealed with a Danielle Edwards runner at the buzzer. They also had a 56-52 win over Roland Park on Jan. 15.
"From our perspective, it's just brutal," McDonogh coach Brad Rees said of the tournament, "because beating these team three times in a row is going to be tough. The old adage holds that it's hard to beat a good team three times. I think we have a very balanced top five and I think there are five teams that have a chance of winning it."
The quarterfinal game with the potential to be closest is St. Frances vs. Seton Keough. The Gators won the first meeting, 53-50, on Jan. 17, but St. Frances took the second game 10 days later, 69-58.
Defending champion Archbishop Spalding has had a rough year after graduating most of its top players, finishing the regular season 5-9 and earning the sixth seed.
The A Conference quarterfinals will be played Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.: John Carroll at McDonogh, Mercy at Roland Park, Spalding at Pallotti and Seton Keough at St. Frances. The higher-seeded winners will host Thursday's semifinals at 5:30 with the title game played Sunday at Spalding.
Severn (19-2), ranked No. 8 in The Sun, is going for its fifth B Conference title in 11 years. The Admirals' closest game with a B Conference opponent this winter was a 54-47 win over Annapolis Area Christian on Jan. 17. Only three other games were within 16 points and the Admirals' average margin of victory was 21.5 points against conference opponents.
The Admirals will host Bryn Mawr in Tuesday's quarterfinal while IND hosts Mount de Sales and Annapolis Area Christian hosts St. Paul's, all at 5:30 p.m. St. Mary's will play St. John's-Catholic Prep at the Boys and Girls Club of Annnapolis at 5 p.m. in the other quarterfinal. The semifinals will be played Thursday with the title game scheduled for Sunday at Spalding.
In the C Conference, defending champion St. Timothy's (19-0) finished 16-0 against conference opposition and is aiming for a third title, having also won in 2005. Catholic came the closest to St. Tim's, falling 45-35 on Jan. 17. Only one other conference team came within 18 points of St. Tim's, which won by an average of 41.4 points.
The Cubs share the top seed with St. Tim's because the C Conference is divided in half and St. Tim's is the Y Division's top seed and Catholic (15-8), which went 14-2 in the conference, is the X Division's top seed.
The top team in the Y Division plays the bottom team in the X Division and vice versa in the quarterfinals, scheduled for Wednesday after a day of first-round games Tuesday.
In the quarterfinals, St. Tim's will host Tuesday's Lutheran-Key winner. Catholic will host the Chapelgate-Beth Tfiloh winner. Glenelg Country will host the Park-Garrison Forest winner. Oldfields will host the Mt. Carmel-Friends winner. The quarterfinals are scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
The highest seeded winners will host the semifinals on Friday with the winners advancing to the title game Sunday at Spalding.
Times for Sunday's title games are tentatively set for C Conference at 1 p.m., A Conference at 3 p.m. and B Conference at 5:30 p.m. but those times could change.
The Eagles have had a couple of close calls against A Conference goes, most notably a 49-47 win over St. Frances on Jan. 29 sealed with a Danielle Edwards runner at the buzzer. They also had a 56-52 win over Roland Park on Jan. 15.
Rees said he believes an of the conference's top five teams is capable of winning the title -- McDonogh, Roland Park, St. Vincent Pallotti, St. Frances and Seton Keough, who are seeded in that order 1 through 5.
The quarterfinal game with the potential to be closest is Seton Keough at St. Frances. The Gators won the first meeting, 53-50, on Jan. 17, but St. Frances took the second game 10 days later, 69-58.