Practice for spring sports begins this week, but there is still one winter sport that has yet to conclude. The state tournaments for boys and girls basketball tips off Tuesday and Wednesday night at campus locations, and Catholic schools have two hopefuls in the boys’ event and five in the girls’ tourney.
No. 17 Tower Hill (14-6) at No. 16 St. Elizabeth (14-6), 7 p.m. The Vikings won two of their final three regular-season games after dropping four straight. They’ll have a challenge in a very athletic Tower Hill team that also struggled down the stretch, as the Hillers lost three of their final four. The Hillers feature a number of weapons, led by Ricky Deadwyler and Donoven Mack, but there are several players who can inflict damage. For the Vikings, seniors Nasir Brown and Colin Hockenbrock provide scoring, as does junior Jaden Dickerson. The winner of this one will face the top seed, Sanford, on Thursday at 7 p.m.
No. 20 Caravel (9-11) at No. 13 Saint Mark’s (13-7), 7 p.m. Caravel might be a lower seed than the Spartans, but the Buccaneers enter the tournament battle-tested after playing a challenging regular-season schedule. The Bucs – who have no seniors and just two juniors on the roster – are led by sophomore India Johnston, along with classmate Taylor Wilkins, and freshman Giniah Gale has provided a presence in the middle. The Spartans have just one senior, Serena Pluta, who sets the tone for the team. The other four starters are juniors, and they will be called upon to provide some scoring. The winner takes on the fourth seed, Delmarva Christian, on Friday in Georgetown.
No. 24 Sussex Tech (7-13) at No. 9 Archmere (14-6), 7 p.m. The Auks just missed the top eight, so they open with the Ravens, the final team to make the 24-team field. Sussex Tech’s strong schedule lifted them into the tournament. They are led by Daniya Dashiell, Ciara Wilson and Keilani Bradham-Gibbs. The veteran Auks get contributions from a any of the starting five, which includes Izzy Gioffre, Madison Stewart, Lauren Kim, Fiona Teaney and Maddie Wallace. The victor faces the eighth seed, Woodbridge, on Friday at 7 p.m.
No. 19 Ursuline (9-10) at No. 14 Newark Charter (14-6), 7 p.m. A strong finish to the regular season propelled the Raiders into the field. They feature just one senior, Kaleigh White, who gives them an inside option. Juniors Emily Rzucidlo and Emma Raftovich are two more scoring options, and Hannah Kelley, a freshman, has been solid. The Patriots come in having won seven of their last eight. They have a number of players who can score, including guards Lanay Smith and Ritika Mandavilli, and forward Aiyanna Vaighn-Ross. Waiting for the winner is the third seed, Sanford, on Friday.
No. 22 Lake Forest (11-9)/No. 11 Middletown (13-7) at No. 6 Salesianum (12-8), 7 p.m. The Sals enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the state, having won nine of their last 10. They can rely on a number of players to provide scoring, including Rasheen Caulk, Justin Molen, Tommy Montooth and Ethan Hinds. The Sals did not play either Lake or Middletown this season.
No. 21 Appoquinimink (10-9)/No. 12 Lake Forest (15-5) at No. 5 St. Elizabeth (14-5), 7 p.m. The veteran Vikings will host this second-round matchup after having been off since Feb. 20. St. Elizabeth is a veteran bunch, with five seniors and two juniors, all of whom play important minutes. The leading scorers are Ber’Nyah Mayo and Naia Pulliam, but any one of six players could lead in scoring on any given night. St. Elizabeth did not play either the Jaguars or the Spartans this season.
No. 22 St. Georges (12-8)/No. 11 Polytech (13-7) vs. No. 6 Padua (13-6), 7 p.m. at Salesianum. The Pandas
enter the postseason winners of 11 of their last 13. Their offense revolves around senior Michelle Kozicki, but they also get contributions from other players, including Brooke Emmi and Haley Quickel. They also tend to play a very aggressive defense, creating opportunities out of turnovers. Padua will move from its cozy gymnasium to Salesianum for this round. The Pandas defeated St. Georges in the season opener, but they did not play Polytech.
The boys’ quarterfinals will be Saturday, March 7, at the home site of the higher seed. Quarterfinal-round girls action will be Monday, March 9, at sites to be determined.