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'Super Saturday' Sectional Finals Predictions

3/9/2013

We will be covering all 12 MIAA basketball sectional finals at UMass-Lowell and UMass-Boston on Saturday afternoon. Here are my predictions for all of Saturday's sectional final action around the state:

NORTH

(at Tsongas Center, UMass-Lowell)

Division 1 Boys

Central Catholic (20-5) vs. Lynn English (18-5)

Lynn English's blitzkrieg through the IAABO 130 Classic last month is what kicked this "Runnin' Dawgs" thing into overdrive. But given that the tournament was at Central Catholic, methinks Raiders coach Rick Nault was taking a few notes on how St. John's Prep broke the Bulldogs' press. If the Raiders can lose to St. Anthony (N.J.) by four points, then I'm confident they can solve the Bulldogs despite missing Nick Cambio and Doug Gemmell to injury. But we might have to set the over-under of total points at 160.

Hall's Pick: Central Catholic

Division 1 Girls

Central Catholic (19-5) vs. Westford (20-4)

Raiders were probably hoping for another crack at Billerica, but Westford threw a wrench in those plans with last night's win over the Indians. This is a Grey Ghosts squad peaking at the right time, and I'm looking for another big night out of Samantha Hyslip.

Hall's Pick: Westford

Division 2 Boys

Brighton (18-6) vs. North Andover (19-4)

North Andover coach Mike McVeigh called Brighton's Malik James "arguably the top guard around" following the Knights' semifinal win over Wakefield. Certainly, James is playing himself into a Super Team spot right now, and has the Bengals clicking at the right time. The Bengals and Knights scrimmaged during the preseason, and the advantage was decidedly in NA's favor that day. But guess who was filming the scrimmage? James, serving a punishment for showing up late to practice. That seemed to have done the trick.

Hall's Pick: Brighton

Division 2 Girls

Reading (22-0) vs. North Andover (15-8)

You knew this this resurgent run by NA, at one point ranked No. 4 in ESPNBoston.com's statewide poll, would happen once superstar forward Morgan Lumb returned to health. The Knights are peaking at the right time, but then again the defending D2 state champs have survived everybody's home run haymaker to this point. Quite frankly, I've never seen a player put a team on her back the way Olivia Healy has. Make sure to save the ticket stub -- this girl is special.

Hall's Pick: Reading

Division 3 Boys

Danvers (21-2) vs. Wayland (19-4)

Wayland gave the Falcons quite the scare when these two teams met in the tournament last year, and I think it will happen again. But the way Danvers has performed all season long -- save for two games in the Comcast Tournament last month -- and the way they're playing right now, they are the heavy favorite.

Hall's Pick: Danvers

Division 3 Girls

Pentucket (23-1) vs. Watertown (13-10)

Tess Nogueira, one of the state's more underappreciated players, steps up big again to deliver Pentucket what seems like its millionth district title at this point. If heavily-favored Archbishop Williams wins out in the South, that might be the most exciting game of the Monday-Tuesday TD Garden swing.

Hall's Pick: Pentucket

***

SOUTH

(at Clark Athletic Center, UMass-Boston)

Division 1 Boys

Mansfield (23-2) vs. North Quincy (18-5)

I'm not kidding when I tweeted Tuesday night after Mansfield's thumping of Brookline that it was the best shooting performance I've seen since Lone Peak (Utah) trounced Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) at the Hoophall Classic back in January -- and Lone Peak is currently ranked the No. 1 team in the country by MaxPreps, so that should say something. Even more impressive than shooting nearly 80 percent from the field in the first half is the fact that they were 9-for-11 on three-pointers. It's been a nice run for the Red Raiders and the Gould twins, but they have their work cut out for them. It's going to take more than simply rhetoric and confidence to win this one.

Hall's Pick: Mansfield

Division 1 Girls

Braintree (23-2) vs. Franklin (19-4)

If there's one thing Braintree lacks, it's a true lead scorer. But when four of your five starters are showing interest from Division 1 college programs, you're nit-picking. Simply put, the Wamps are one of the best defensive teams in the state, if not the best, and while I expect Franklin to give them quite the battle it's hard for me to pick against Braintree.

Hall's Pick: Braintree

Division 2 Boys

Sciuate (20-3) vs. Milton (15-8)

Remember how I said before the tournament D2 South would be literally anyone's for the taking? The final four in this bracket were a No. 1 seed (Scituate), followed by the 12 (Sharon), 14 (Wellesley) and 15 (Milton) seeds. We saw a 15 seed march all the way to the D1 North Final two years ago (Lawrence), and we saw a 14 seed win D1 North six years ago (Cambridge). Milton's crowds have been unbelievable. What the heck, I've got nothing to lose, let's keep a good story going.

Hall's Pick: Milton

Division 2 Girls

Medfield (22-1) vs. Duxbury (21-2)

Unstoppable force meets immovable object here. Hard to pick a favorite, but Medfield has been knocking on the door the last few years and this could be its breakthrough year. The key matchup in this one will presumably be Duxbury's Michaela North versus Medfield's Jen Narlee in the frontcourt. Expect a low-scoring affair.

Hall's Pick: Medfield

Division 3 Boys

Wareham (22-1) vs. Martha's Vineyard (17-5)

As loyal Twitter follower and teenage hoops guru Tyler Amaral (@TyBeats300) points out, Wareham once scored 113 points in a game during their 2010 state championship season. After scoring 61 points in an absolute MMA fight with Rockland in the last round, the Vikings are due for another offensive explosion. The Vikings have been consistently one of the state's best running teams under Kevin Brogioli, but Vineyard can run right with them. This should be an entertaining one.

Hall's Pick: Wareham

Division 3 Girls

Ashland (17-6) vs. Archbishop Williams (20-5)

This is Archies' seventh straight season in the D3 South title, but the Bishops have been coming up short in recent years (see: Fairhaven in 2012, Coyle-Cassidy in 2011, and so forth). These two teams met in the 2010 title game, an Archies win, but Ashland is going to have to play flawlessly against the Bishops' abundance of frontcourt size. Still, crazier things have happened this postseason.

Hall's Pick: Archbishop Williams