With the start of the regional playoffs about a week away, seven of the county's nine boys basketball teams have all but clinched berths.

Joppatowne (13-4 overall, 7-4 league), defending state champ in Class 1A, should have no trouble holding onto the top spot in its region.

Also in Class 1A, Harford Vo-Tech (11-5), which doesn't play a Harford County league schedule, could get the No. 2 spot. Havre de Grace (3-16, 0-11) should wrap up the sixth-seeded spot behind Bohemia Manor, Kent County and Perryville.

Edgewood (18-1, 11-0) should hold onto the top spot in its Class 2A region with Aberdeen (15-4, 9-2) right behind. Fallston (10-9, 5-6) could end up fourth or fifth.

In Class 3A, Bel Air (11-8, 6-5) will probably land fifth in its region behind Catonsville, Parkville, Eastern Vo-Tech and Lansdowne.

The playoffs begin Feb. 25 with the boys games scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. Six teams in each region advance with the top two seeds earning first-round byes.

With three games left in the regular season, Edgewood appears to have wrapped up the county title. The Rams remain undefeated with Havre de Grace and Fallston scheduled for next week.

The Rams are still without leading scorer Steve Lewis. The senior, averaging 18.2 points per game, is out indefinitely with a back injury.

Still, the Rams have plenty of power in their lineup. Three players scored in double figures as Edgewood beat C. Milton Wright, 68-55, Tuesday. Damon Bomar and Maurice Boone added 17 points each while John Hobbs added 14.

Brian Grzyb led the Mustangs (7-11, 4-7) with 20 points while Billy Simmons added 12.

The Rams, however, did suffer a scare last Friday when Joppatowne held a lead on them through three quarters.

The Mariners might have pulled off the upset had they not run into foul trouble. Edgewood prevailed, 54-47.

Joppatowne slowed the pace against the running Rams to hold a 29-20 lead at halftime and a 41-35 lead after three quarters. The Mariners didn't falter until point guard Kilo Mack (10 points) andlater, center Kevin Hockaday (23 points) got into foul trouble.

The Rams got 17 points each from Bomar and Boone.

"It was good for us mentally to win a game like that and come from behind," said Edgewood coach Bob Slagle. "Hopefully, it will pay dividends later on."

The Mariners are at full strength for the first time this season. B.J. Barnes returned to the lineup only to see Hockaday go out for fourgames. Now that Hockaday is back, the Mariners hope to peak in time to make a return trip to the state final four at Cole Field House on March 8.

"We need to come back together," said Joppatowne coach Mike Bauer. "We played well against Edgewood, but we don't have much depth. When Kilo goes out, we are in trouble."

In Tuesday's 85-46 victory over North Harford, the Mariners got 32 points from Hockaday and 19 from Mack. Barnes chipped in 10.

North Harford (4-15, 2-9) fell behind, 27-2, after the first quarter. Scott Drega led the Hawks with 16 points.

In other action earlier this week, Aberdeen beat Bel Air, 68-48. The Eagles led by just five at halftime but used full-court pressure to run away in the third quarter. Demont Blackmon and Demetrius Harris led the Eagles with 12 and Sherman Huff added 10.

Mike Eves led the Bobcats with 19.

Also on Tuesday, Fallston beat Havre de Grace, 82-62. Scoop Kelly led the Cougars with 30 points and 17 rebounds. Steve Chaires scored 21 and Matt Dontell added 15.

Brent Bramwell led the Warriors with 21 points. Greg Brown added 15 and Mike Garcia, 13.

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