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Icy morning postpones girls basketball sectional semifinals

Icy roads Monday morning closed all Baltimore-area public schools and postponed the girls basketball sectional quarterfinals.

Games will be made up Tuesday although some times may change because schools also hosting boys sectional quarterfinals will have doubleheaders. The boys sectional semifinals are scheduled for Tuesday.

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"If we fall behind, we will play every day we can until we catch up," Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association executive director Ned Sparks said Monday. "With a lot of cancellations today, we'll play a lot of doubleheaders tomorrow and go from there.

"We've got a contingency plan, and we've got a schedule. This year, it happens that the girls would play the first game and the boys would play the second game. Last year, it was the other way around."

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The schedule could be scrambled again Tuesday and perhaps later in the week with forecasters calling for freezing rain Tuesday afternoon and snow Thursday morning. If games can't be played either of those days, it would push Wednesday's sectional finals to Friday and the regional finals to Saturday.

Sparks said it has happened before.

"We've gone down to three days in a row, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. If we get the first one in, the end of the week looks like Friday and Saturday [schools] would be open. If not, we'd have to move into next week."

The state semifinals are scheduled to begin March 11 at Towson's SECU Arena for the girls and March 12 at Maryland's Xfinity Center for the boys.

In the past, heavy snow has fallen late enough to mess with the state tournament.

Sparks pointed to 1993, when a storm hit the Friday of state semifinals. According stories in The Baltimore Sun, the "Blizzard of 1993" brought a foot of snow to Baltimore, nearly three feet to Western Maryland and ice to Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

State officials postponed Saturday's state finals several times, and they were finally played Wednesday.

"It gets dicey in the winter," Sparks said. "Fortunately, over the past few years, it's a little easier to at least get the word out with social media, the websites and so forth. Before, it was phone calls and hoping you can get things rescheduled and people alerted and now things are done almost within the minute you make the decision."

In addition to basketball, the Class 4A-3A swimming state championships are scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Center. That state meet already has been postponed once, and Sparks said there is no contingency plan for a second change although he's working on one.

"Swimming is tougher, because there's not many swimming facilities and not many have the ability to have at least 1,000 spectators," Sparks said. "We need room for 1,000 spectators and then pool deck size and things like that, so there's only a few in the state that are useable and getting time that's not booked is a factor with them, but we'll get it done somehow."

The 4A-3A swimming championships involve only nine of the state's 24 jurisdictions. All are from the Baltimore and Washington areas and Southern Maryland.

Among The Sun's Top 15 girls basketball teams, the following games have been rescheduled:

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No. 4 Milford Mill home vs. Franklin, Tuesday, 4 p.m. in Class 3A North

No. 5 Aberdeen home vs. Bel Air, Tuesday, 6 p.m. in Class 3A North

No. 9 Patterson Mill at Rising Sun, Tuesday, 7 p.m. in Class 2A East

No. 10 Old Mill home vs. Meade, Tuesday, 5 p.m. in Class 4A East

No. 14 C. Milton Wright home vs. Edgewood, Tuesday, 5 p.m. in Class 3A North

To check times for other changes as they become available, go to the MPSSAA web site.

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