The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Assocation A Conference playoffs are set to open with two quarterfinal round games on Wednesday -- sixth-seeded Glenelg Country at third-seeded Archbishop Spalding at 6 p.m. and fifth-seeded Calvert Hall traveling to fourth-seeded and defending champion John Carroll at 7 p.m. -- while top-seeded St. Frances and second-seeded Mount St. Joseph earned byes.
While St. Frances led the conference in the regular season from start to finish and are considered the favorites in the tournament, anything can happen in the postseason.
Here's a look at the first-round matchups and what we can look for down the road as the teams challenge to make a run for Sunday's championship game at UMBC.
The semifinals are slated for Friday.
Wednesday's quarterfinal round
Glenelg Country (10-16, 5-11) at Archbishop Spalding (19-10, 11-5)
The host Cavaliers have shown they have the experience and firepower to make an extended playoff run, but it won't come easy. It starts with Wednesday's matchup against the Dragons, who, despite losing eight of their last nine league games, have the talent to pull off the upset. The Cavaliers won both meetings during the regular season, but only by a combined four points that included a 62-59 home win on Jan. 11. Senior forward Earl Potts leads a balanced lineup for the Cavaliers, with junior guard Jourdan Grant providing another option from the perimeter. Glenelg Country matches up favorably with forward Warren Powers and guard Kevin Boyd as their key players.
Calvert Hall (13-14, 8-8) at John Carroll (24-10, 10-6)
Little has come easy for the defending champion Patriots, but they've managed to grind out plenty of wins playing strong defense and getting consistently poised play from senior point guard Rodney Elliott Jr. to lead the way. Sophomore guard Kimbal Mackenzie gives the Patriots a second option from the outside and senior forward Mike Owona is a resourceful inside presence at both ends. The Cardinals travel to Bel Air on Wednesday with confidence, based on a 50-43 win over John Carroll in the teams' second meeting on Jan. 30. Calvert Hall, which lost to the Patriots, 52-33, on Jan. 7, overcame an eight-point first-half deficit to claim the win. Sophomore guard Drew Edwards, who scored a game-high 22 points in the victory, has the ability to take over games as the Cardinals' catalyst.
Waiting in the wings
St. Frances (29-4, 15-1)
If the Panthers play at their best, which they did for much of the regular season, they should be leaving UMBC on Sunday with the hardware. Senior Tevon Saddler brings versatile inside-outside game and is difficult to match up against. Just as important, he demonstrates leadership and the ability to take over games in the important minutes. Fellow senior guard Maurice White scores from anywhere and also has done the important little things to close out games. The Panthers are the deepest team in the field, with junior forward Dwayne Morgan a versatile option and point guard Kurk Lee Jr. smart with the ball and on defense. The Panthers will host the Archbishop Spalding/Glenelg Country winner in Friday's semifinal round.
Mount St. Joseph (26-5, 13-3)
Led by the dynamic one-two punch of guards Kameron Williams and Phil Booth, the Gaels have the firepower to capture the title. Both standouts will have to be on top of their games and the team will have to rebound, play well defensively and make free throws to get it done. Senior Charlie Jones does a lot of the little things well, and guard Jaylen Adams has showed he can provide offense at times. While Williams and Booth must carry the load, it also will be important for others to step up at given times. Mount St. Joseph opens at home against the John Carroll-Calvert Hall winner on Friday. The Gaels played both teams twice during the regular season and won all four games comfortably.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun