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Mtn. Ridge-Allegany, Southern-Northern battle in girls region semis tonight

Mar. 1—The Maryland Class 1A West Region I girls basketball playoffs continue tonight with a spot in the region championship on the line.

Top-seeded Southern (19-3) plays host to county rival and fourth-seeded Northern (14-8), while second-seeded Mountain Ridge (20-3) welcomes third-seeded Allegany (15-7) to Frostburg in another county matchup.

Both of those region semifinal games tip off at 6 p.m. The region finals will be held on Wednesday at the higher seed.

Mountain Ridge, the top-ranked team in the area poll and winners of a share of the Western Maryland Athletic Conference title along with Southern, is the defending region champion and was the 2022-23 Class 1A state runner-up to Pikesville, which has captured three straight state championships.

The Miners opened their title defense with a 71-16 bludgeoning of seventh-seeded Hancock on Wednesday night. Allegany also cruised in its quarterfinal, routing Fort Hill, 53-23.

The two Allegany County rivals played two tight regular-season games, both won by Mountain Ridge. The Miners won in Cumberland, 57-48 (Dec. 12), and defended their home court 50-48 (Jan. 22).

Both teams enter tonight riding eight-game win streaks.

Mountain Ridge is led by last year's Area Player of the Year Sydney Snyder, who was also recently named the 2023 soccer Area Player of the Year.

The senior averages 17.7 points a night, leads the area with 64 3-pointers and is one of the area's top foul shooters, making 76 of 94 shots (80.9%).

Freshman Kealana Pua'uali emerged at the end of the year as a consistent scoring threat, posting five straight double-figure outputs to push her average to 8.9 a game.

Reghan Sivic, an All-Area performer last year, is third on the squad scoring 8.4 a night.

Allegany boasts a pair of scorers that reside at the top of the area leaderboards.

Avery Miller, who like Snyder crossed the career 1,000-point threshold this winter, paces Alco with 18.7 points per game. Miller, a junior, has scored in double figures in 20 of 22 games.

Shylah Taylor averages 16.6 points per game and her 61 made 3-pointers are the second most in the area.

Ella Shade has established herself as a reliable deep threat. She's made a 3 in seven straight games and has 30 on the year.

Allegany has the most made 3s of any team in the region, entering tonight with 128, an average of 5.8 per game. Northern has made 99, Mountain Ridge 98 and Southern 87.

Mountain Ridge has the edge at the foul line making 273 of 415 shots (65.8%), compared to 212 of 326 (64.8%) made by Allegany.

The other semifinal features the top two foul shooting teams in the WestMAC.

Northern has made 180 of 263 foul shots (68.4%), and Southern has made 236 of 351 (67.2%).

That's where Northern's advantage on the court ends, though, as Southern routed the Huskies, 54-29 (Jan. 16) and 59-38 (Feb. 1), in two regular-season meetings.

Southern raced through the toughest schedule in the area to an 18-2 start before falling at Mountain Ridge, 50-40, on Feb. 12. The defeat ended a 12-game win streak.

Southern won the coin flip with Mountain Ridge for the top seed — both teams finished with matching records and split their games during the regular-season — to earn home-court advantage.

The Rams also earned a first-round bye into the region semis. Northern, seeded fourth, defeated fifth-seeded Clear Spring, 49-40, on Wednesday night at Garrett College.

The Rams have two players that average double figures and have five that score at least five points a game.

Carly Wilt paces the squad at 12.1 points per game, followed by Jayden Weaver (10.8), Emelee Parks (8.9), Gabbi Berry (5.4) and Kelsie Ward (5.0).

Northern will have to contend with Southern's full-court press and 1-3-1 halfcourt trap, which nets the Rams 12.6 steals per game.

The Huskies will rely on the scoring of Abby and Lydia Nelson.

Abby Nelson leads the squad scoring 16.7 points a game and has made 35 3s. The sophomore exploded for a season-high 35 points in a 59-44 win over Rockwood just two weeks ago.

Lydia Nelson adds 11.0 points a game and leads the squad with 38 made treys.