Now that the city and county championships have been decided in high school girls basketball, attention turns to the regional playoffs.
The sectional quarterfinals begin Friday night, but most of the area's best teams have a bye through to Tuesday's quarterfinals. The only team in The Baltimore Sun's Top 15 that plays Friday is No. 11 Howard, which will host Springbrook at 7 p.m.
The Howard County champion Lions' section, Class 4A North Section II, is perhaps the most competitive section involving local teams. No. 5 Western (20-1) is the top seed. In Tuesday's sectional semifinal, the Baltimore City Division I champion Doves will host the winner of the quarterfinal game between Mervo and Sherwood.
If Howard (20-2) wins, the Lions will draw the winner of Paint Branch-Digital Harbor. Paint Branch, won the region last year and went on to fall to Eleanor Roosevelt in the state championship game.
The Lions are aiming for their first title since 1994 while the Doves haven't won since 1995.
In the other half of the 4A North bracket, No. 7 Catonsville (21-2) is the top seed in Section I. The Baltimore County champion Comets will host the sectional semifinal Monday at 5:30 p.m. against the Bel Air-Kenwood winner.
Last year, the Comets fell to Paint Branch in the regional final and the Panthers went on to defeat defeat Old Mill in the state semifinal. Anne Arundel County champion Old Mill, the highest ranked public school team in The Sun's Top 15 at No. 3, is 22-0 and may be the favorite to win its first state title since 1983.
The Patriots also are the highest ranked Maryland public school team in The Washington Post's Top 20 where neither Roosevelt nor Paint Branch is ranked. Nine of the past 11 4A champions have come from Prince George's or Montgomery counties. Roosevelt won seven of those titles. Arundel and North Point are the only programs not from the two Washington, D.C.-area counties to win in 20 years.
Friday in the East region, the top-seeded Patriots, ranked No. 5 in The Post, have a bye and will advance to meet the winner of the Severna Park-Glen Burnie game in Tuesday's sectional semifinal. If the Patriots win their section, they would host probably North Point or Chopticon in the regional final. The Post has Chopticon ranked 13th and North Point, 16th.
Class 3A North has also been one of the most competitive regions in girls basketball for the past few seasons. Two-time defending state champion Milford Mill, No. 8 and Harford County champion Aberdeen and No. 9 Poly are all in that region.
Poly (17-5) and Milford Mill (12-7) could meet in the Section I final and that winner is likely to meet Aberdeen (19-1) for the regional title. The state champion has come from this region four straight years with Aberdeen taking the titles in 2012 and 2013. Poly is looking for its first state title.
In Class 3A East, Glenelg is the top seed in Section I and Atholton is the second seed behind Stephen Decatur in Section II. The region includes nine Howard County teams with three quarterfinal meetings in Section I – River Hill at Mount Hebron, Reservoir at Centennial and Wilde Lake and Long Reach. Hammond, which hosts J.M. Bennett, is in Section II.
Defending Class 2A champion Patterson Mill is now in Class 1A. No. 13 New Town (18-2) and No. 15 Liberty (14-7) are the top local teams in 2A.
New Town is top seeded in the North Section II while Liberty is top seeded in the West Section II.
No. 14 Patterson Mill (16-5) is the top seed in Class 1A North Section I. If the Huskies reach the regional final, they're likely to meet defending champion Forrestville (19-2), which is ranked No. 6 in The Post and which has lost only to to St. Mary's, Cal. – the No. 1 team in the country – and to Riverdale Baptist, the No. 9 team in the country.
In Class 1A West, No. 12 Manchester Valley (22-1) is seeded first in the West Section II. If the Mavericks, coming off their first Carroll County championship, reach the region final, they could meet Southern, of Garrett County, the 2014 state champion.
The girls sectional semifinals are scheduled for Tuesday with the sectional finals on Thursday and the regional finals on Saturday.
The state semifinals are scheduled for March 10 and 11 at Towson University's SECU Arena with the finals on March 12, also at SECU.