Saturday, February 24, 2018

MIAA Boys' Basketball Tournament: North and South Sectional Picks

Fresh off a Boston City League title, Tech Boston enters the D2 South bracket as a prohibitive favorite.
By SuiteSports Staff

On Friday morning, the MIAA released the basketball pairings for the 2018 State Tournament for the North, South, and Central Sectionals.

Upon first glance, a number of noteworthy matchups have the potential to take place. In Division 1 South, No. 5 Catholic Memorial could take a trip to No. 4 Newton North in the quarterfinal, while up North, No. 2 Lawrence would certainly love a shot to avenge a regular season overtime loss to No. 7 St. John’s Prep

Division 2 North is wide open, with No. 4 Belmont playing terrific down the stretch, and a rematch of last year’s sectional semi-final set to take place between No. 2 Arlington and No. 7 Brighton, if both can take care of business in the opening round.

No. 1 Apponequet and No. 2 Bishop Stang finished the regular season against one another, and could meet up again in the Division 3 South Sectional Final.

It will certainly be interesting to see if either No. 8 Newburyport or No. 9 Lynn Tech can challenge St. Mary’s in Division 3 North now that the Spartans have to travel for the Quarter Final.

With the dissection of the brackets complete, here are SuiteSports' picks for this year’s 2018 MIAA Boys Basketball North and South Sectionals.

Division 1 North

Pick: Everett over St. John’s Prep

Sleeper: Lynn Classical

Upset: Lynn Classical over Lowell

Overview: Division 1 North is one of the more talented brackets in the state, with five to six teams good enough to make sustained runs. St. John’s Prep enters the tournament talented and battle tested after a tough regular season schedule, and No. 2 Lawrence has one of the top scorers in the state in Luis Reynoso. Two time-defending champion Cambridge has just as much size as anyone, and No. 6 Central Catholic has proven they can beat just about any of the north contenders. Still, this seems like the year for Everett to break through in Division 1 North.

 Division 1 South

Pick: Needham over Newton North

Sleeper: Brookline

Upset: Brookline over New Bedford

Overview: The toughest bracket to pick, Division 1 South carries it with four teams that have a legitimate shot to make it to the TD Garden. Three of those teams are on one side, with Mansfield, Newton North, and Catholic Memorial all slated to potentially face one another before the sectional final. BC High, Brockton and Brookline, meanwhile, have the ability to make a run of their own. Due to the way bracket shakes up, as well as the core pieces of Thomas Shaughnessy, Will Dorion, and Michael Klemm, we’re going with Needham to claim its second straight south sectional championship. 

Division 2 North

Pick: Belmont over Arlington

Sleeper: Woburn

Upset: Melrose over Masconomet

Overview: Three of the top six teams in this section come from the Middlesex League, with Arlington, Belmont, and Winchester all having terrific seasons. The Spy Ponders started the season 15-1, but dropped their last four to finish the season 15-5. Belmont, meanwhile, found itself playing its best basketball at end of the season, highlighted by its Division 2 Dvinci Comcast Tournament title. Defending Division 2 state champion Brighton sits dangerously at the seven spot. With the way they closed the season, we’re picking the Marauders, behind star junior guard Danny Yardemian to claim the sectional tite.

Division 2 South

Pick: Tech Boston over Hingham

Sleeper: O’Bryant

Upset: New Mission over Foxboro

Overview: Tech Boston enters the tournament as the clear favorite in Division 2 South behind Maurice Works and Walter Dew-Hollis. There are plenty of teams, however, who would like to give the Bears a run for their money. No. 2 Hingham has had a terrific season led by John Gates and John Lowther, Hanover is experienced with 14 players back from last year’s state championship team, and Whitman-Hanson has won back-to-back sectional titles. Canton, for its part, played Mansfield to the wire earlier in the season and knocked off Foxboro. Still, the Bears are too quick, too athletic, and too explosive not to end up at the Garden.

Division 3 North

Pick: St. Mary’s over Hamilton-Wenham

Sleeper: Watertown

Upset: None

Overview: This section carries with it all sorts of variables, starting with the elephant in the room in St. Mary’s requirement to go on the road in the quarterfinals. Watertown has the potential to make a run due to the mismatch that John Korte presents. St. Mary’s, however, has been one of top teams in the state all season long, and with guard Jalen Echevarria to turn to in crunch time the Spartans seem poised to head back to the state semi-finals.

Division 3 South

Pick: Bishop Stang over Apponequet

Sleeper: Cardinal Spellman

Upset: Wareham over Case

Overview: The two seeds at the top of Division 3 South finished the regular season against one another, with a shot at a perfect regular season on the line. Apponequet emerged victorious, pulling away in the game's closing moments. Cardinal Spellman has the advantage of being a senior-laden team, while Burke raised eyebrows with an impressive 20-2 regular season. We’re going to roll with Stang here, though, as it gets revenge in what will be a highly anticipated sectional final.

Division 4 North

Pick: Pope John over Austin Prep

Sleeper: Snowden

Upset: None

Overview: Pope John has been dominant wire-to-wire, so in a shortened bracket there is no reason to believe it cannot add to an already terrific season with three south sectional wins.

Division 4 South

Pick: Nantucket over Mashpee

Sleeper: Saint John Paul II

Upset: Avon over Holbrook

Overview: We're expecting a rubber match between Nantucket and Mashpee for the South Sectional Final. The two sides split during the regular season with Nantucket taking the first matchup, 64-61, before the Falcons responded with a 70-65 victory of their own. DeVaun Ford has been terrific this season for Mashpee, and freshman Will Baker has stepped up in key moments. Nantucket's quickness, and scoring bursts come at the right time, however, and the Whalers pull out the sectional title. 

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