The Baltimore Sun

One of the key draws for teams in the annual Basketball Academy is the chance to meet opponents they might not otherwise be able to schedule.

"The competition is one of the main attractions," Lake Clifton boys coach Herman Harried said. "City teams, we compete against each other all year long and as good as those matchups are - and they are good - it's great for the fans to see us match up against teams from other areas. Other than the academic piece, that's the main attraction."

The Lakers will play in this year's marquee game - a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown with top-ranked St. Frances on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. - but that's just one of 20 girls and boys games that make up the competitive side of the 13th annual Basketball Academy, which begins today and runs through Saturday at Morgan State. Ten teams ranked by The Baltimore Sun are among the participants.

There's also a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup on the girls side as The Sun's No. 2 Western faces The Washington Post's No. 1 Riverdale Baptist.

"It's a great opportunity to play another nationally ranked team," said Western coach Tiffany Silver of the Crusaders, who are ranked No. 12 by USA Today and are the fourth nationally ranked team the Doves have met this season. "It's a good platform for our program."

The academy has always been about more than basketball, blending the sports side with academic instruction, cultural learning and service programs. Students attend workshops on the Morgan campus about SAT preparation, health and wellness, and other topics.

Formerly known as the Mayor's Basketball Academy, the event moved to Morgan in 2004 after it outgrew Coppin State."It's probably one of the main events in the country as far as high school basketball drawing national attention," Harried said. "When I travel during the summer to Nike events, the coaches talk about the Basketball Academy."

Track: No. 1's favored

The top-ranked Gilman boys and the No. 1 McDonogh girls are going to be the teams to beat at Friday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association/Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland indoor track and field championships at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex.

Gilman has had a good season, winning the regular-season title and beating defending champion Mount St. Joseph in a few meets already. The Greyhounds have plenty of balance in sprints, distance and field events and could have a good shot at beating Mount St. Joseph, which has dominated the events in recent years.

The McDonogh girls had some bad luck at this meet last year, losing to Seton Keough after suffering some ill-timed injuries. But the Eagles bounced back to win the IAAM's outdoor track title and have been flying this winter.

Jeff Seidel

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