The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association will have its three championship basketball games on Sunday at Harford Community College. Here’s a closer look at the matchups:
No. 1 St. Frances (35-3) vs. No. 3 Mount Saint Joseph (26-5)
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Outlook: The league’s top two teams meet for a second straight year with the Panthers coming into Sunday’s game as the defending champion. Mount Saint Joe handed St. Frances its only league loss with a 62-53 home win on Jan. 17 before the Panthers rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 73-69 win on Feb. 14. Seniors will play big in this one. The defending champions lean on forward Jamal West and point guard Adrian “Ace” Baldwin, while the Mount Saint Joe standouts are forward Jason Edokpayi and the guard tandem of Tyler Brelsford and Ausar Crawley. St. Frances has dominated the postseason, beating Glenelg Country, 80-56, in the quarterfinals and No. 13 John Carroll, 98-71, in the semifinals. The Gaels have had sterner tests, getting two late free throws from Crawley in a 65-63 quarterfinal win over St. Vincent Pallotti before pulling away from No. 14 Archbishop Spalding, 55-43, in the semifinals. Both St. Frances and Mount Saint Joe have won five championships.
Archbishop Curley (22-6) vs. St. John’s Catholic Prep (20-11)
Time: 3 p.m.
Outlook: The top-seeded Friars take aim at the program’s second B title — the first coming in 2001 — and third overall with a C crown from 1996 also in the trophy case. If the regular season is any indication, they will get a significant push from second-seeded St. John’s. The teams split their two meetings with each claiming tightly contested home wins — Curley winning 64-58 on Jan. 15 before the Vikings from Frederick County answering with a 64-59 win on Feb. 7. In Thursday’s 64-35 semifinal win over Chapelgate Christian, Curley opened with the game’s first 21 points — the run extending into the second quarter — in making sure their season would extend on to Sunday. Seniors played big in the win with guard Caleb Johnson scoring 16 points and forward Dalyn Brandon adding 13. The Vikings, whose only championship came in 2016, got 23 points from senior guard Brandon Pilgrim in claiming a 59-52 win over Friends in their semifinal win on Thursday.
Cristo Rey (14-12) vs. Park (14-6 )
Time: 1 p.m.
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Outlook: Cristo Rey’s most recent visit to Harford Community College’s APGFCU Arena was monumental as the Hornets overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to knock off defending champion Key in last year’s championship game, 69-61, for the program’s first crown. Experience is heavily in the their favor — senior Khari Barrett and junior Jamal Lee played big roles in last year’s win — as they make their third straight title game appearance. Park takes aim at the program’s third C title and first since 2006. Senior captains Ryan Bradley and Ryan Adams are the catalysts, with Ry Hermann providing strong inside play. The teams both finished with 10-2 league marks and split their two regular season meetings — each claiming road wins. The Bruins needed a poised performance to get past Key, 56-54, in Thursday’s semifinal game, while Cristo Rey dominated Concordia Prep, 77-56.