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With IAAM championship games on tap, St. Frances and St. Paul’s basketball aiming to defend crowns

Defending IAAM A Conference champion St. Frances will square off against St. Vincent Pallotti in the conference championship game at Stevenson University on Sunday at 6 p.m. St. Frances, which is going for its fifth consecutive A Conference title, won both regular-season meetings this winter.
Defending IAAM A Conference champion St. Frances will square off against St. Vincent Pallotti in the conference championship game at Stevenson University on Sunday at 6 p.m. St. Frances, which is going for its fifth consecutive A Conference title, won both regular-season meetings this winter.(Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

The Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland will hold its three championship basketball games on Sunday at Stevenson University. Here’s a snapshot look at what to look for in those contests, which begin at 2 p.m.:

A CONFERENCE

Match-up: St. Frances (24-3) vs. Pallotti (21-5)

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Time: 6 p.m.

Outlook: St. Frances will try and stretch its string of A Conference championships to five when it meets Pallotti. Last year, the Panthers edged regular-season champion Roland Park 33-29 in a title game that was a defensive struggle. Angel Reese, headed for Maryland next fall, and Aniya Gourdine have been the team’s two top offensive threats this season. They combined for 40 points in the team’s 51-48 victory over Roland Park in the A Conference semifinals Thursday night. Gourdine scored 22 and Reese added 18, as St. Frances overcame the Reds, who jumped to an 11-point first-quarter lead. For Pallotti, also the Panthers, Eniya Russell led the way with 20 points in the team’s 46-44 victory over McDonogh in the other A semifinal. Russell played for the Institute of Notre Dame last year but transferred to Pallotti, which has several new transfers this season. St. Frances swept both regular-season meetings between the two schools and now has won six straight overall. Pallotti is coming in on a seven-game winning streak.

B CONFERENCE

St. Paul's players (From L to R) Destiny Ryles (#4), Alex Sawers (#5), Devan Conrad (#11) and Esprit Cha celebrate their team's victory over Mount de Sales, 57-48, in the 2019 IAAM girls basketball B Conference championship game at Stevenson University..
St. Paul's players (From L to R) Destiny Ryles (#4), Alex Sawers (#5), Devan Conrad (#11) and Esprit Cha celebrate their team's victory over Mount de Sales, 57-48, in the 2019 IAAM girls basketball B Conference championship game at Stevenson University..(Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Match-up: St. Paul’s (22-3) vs. Mount Carmel (14-13)

Time: 4 p.m.

Outlook: Both teams are coming into this game on a roll. St. Paul’s is trying for a second straight B Conference title and now has won 13 straight games. The Gators crushed Mercy and Maryvale in their two playoff games and can score in a lot of different ways. They’ve got speed, move the ball well and can also shoot from the outside, if needed. Destiny Ryles is the point guard and makes the offense go while keeping the team balanced. Alex Sawyers and others also can help. Mount Carmel has rebounded from a tough start and has won eight consecutive games. The Cougars played a brutal schedule in the first part of the season, but that may have helped them when it was time for conference play. St. Paul’s beat Mount Carmel, 57-47, in their only meeting of the season back in early December, but the Cougars took off in mid-January. They made it to the finals thanks to a tough 31-27 victory over St. Timothy’s in a semifinal where Tsion Smith scored 10 points.

C CONFERENCE

Match-up: Bryn Mawr (15-4) vs. Concordia Prep (21-10)

Time: 2 p.m.

Outlook: This is the only one of the three conferences which does not feature a team looking to repeat as champion. Catholic won the C Conference last season. The Mawrtians have won 10 of their last 11 games heading into the finals. They scored easy victories over Beth Tfiloh and Indian Creek to make it into the championship round. Bryn Mawr beat Concordia Prep 42-36 in the only meeting between the two teams this season and has gotten help from different players throughout the season. Concordia Prep enters the championship game having won seven consecutive games. The Saints rolled over Catholic in their first playoff game and then outlasted Oldfields (54-48) in a conference semifinal.

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