The winter storm that's passing through the state today has yet to postpone any of the boys basketball regional championship games, which are still set to take place for Thursday and Friday. However, it is impacting preparations, particularly for the Class 2A and 1A games that are scheduled for Thursday.
Four of the seven regional title games scheduled for Thursday involve Baltimore-area teams, and with school closed today, each won't have the opportunity to practice after semifinal wins on Tuesday.
"It changes things a lot," said Dunbar coach Cyrus Jones, whose No. 1 Poets will host fellow Baltimore City opponent Ben Franklin-Masonville on Thursday. "Without the chance to practice, review things and talk to the kids about the team we're going to play, it limits what you're capable of doing.
"Instead, we'll give the kids everything on game day, and they don't have a chance to take the information in and let it sink in."
Every team is in the same situation Thursday.
In the Class 1A, Pikesville will travel to No. 11 New Town for the North regional championship, with game time set for 6 p.m., while Dunbar hosts Ben Franklin-Masonville for the South regional title at 5 p.m.
In the Class 2A, Randallstown is scheduled to host No. 5 Edmondson in the North regional final, which is set for 6 p.m., and No. 6 Oakland Mills hosts Largo in the South final at a time that has yet to be announced.
Joppatowne hosts Wicomico in the 2A East title game on Friday at 6:30 p.m., so those teams could have a day to practice depending on whether schools are open Thursday.
"All the coaches want to get in the gym to run through some stuff and make adjustments, but the rules are the rules and you just have to play. Pikesville is a good team. They have some talent, so it's going to be tough. We just got to roll the dice with this one," New Town coach Mike Daniel said, whose Titans defeated the Panthers, 72-52, in a regular season game on Feb. 1.
Randallstown just knocked out defending state champion Lake Clifton in a hard-fought 59-55 win on Tuesday.
The Rams can expect an equally difficult time against Edmondson, but Rams coach Kevin English isn't as concerned as other coaches that his team won't get any official practice in before the regional title game.
"I think most of our kids will find a way to get in a gym somewhere [today], so that will help keep their conditioning and timing some," he said. "The past few weeks, we've also been focusing on defense, so that's one good thing because you can always play good hard defense no matter how many days you have off."
The next question is: How many days may the teams have off?
With the wintry mix expected to continue into tonight, there's a good chance of school being closed tomorrow, as well. If that's the case, the teams playing in Friday's Class 4A and 3A region championships also won't get any practice time.
For now, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association is taking it day by day. The girls state tournament also is set to run from Thursday through Saturday at UMBC.
"Right now, we are playing tomorrow, Friday and Saturday as scheduled, and we'll evaluate things further early tomorrow morning," MPSSAA executive director Ned Sparks said. "We have some thoughts [on a contingency plan], but rather than plug them, we'll wait until we see what hand we’re dealt."