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Familiar foes to meet in districts

The high school girls basketball sectional tournaments were the appetizers.

Now it’s time for the main course.

District play begins tonight in Division I and continues Wednesday in Divisions II, III and IV.

Top-seeded Warren G. Harding will battle Canfield in a semifinal at 6 p.m. tonight in Ravenna, with the winner playing second-seeded Stow-Munroe Falls or third-seeded Aurora in the final at 7 p.m. Friday back in Ravenna.

The Raiders (21-2) and Cardinals (17-7) are playing for a third time this season after Harding swept the first two while winning the All-American Conference, Red Tier title. The league-champion Raiders downed runner-up Canfield by scores of 49-38 on Jan. 8 and 42-33 on Jan. 25. Harding went 8-0 in the league and the Cardinals finished 6-2.

The third-meeting scenario will play itself out six times in the area’s 12 district semifinal matchups.

In Division II, top-seeded West Branch (20-3) faces fourth-seeded Salem (15-9) at 7:45 p.m., Wednesday at Fitch, following a 6 p.m. semifinal between second-seeded South Range (17-6) and third-seeded Columbiana (17-6). The winners will advance to Saturday’s final at Fitch, which tips off at 7 p.m.

West Branch swept the Quakers in Eastern Buckeye Conference play, winning 47-44 on Jan. 4 and 50-42 on Feb. 5.

In Division III districts, top-seeded Champion (19-4) battles fourth-seeded LaBrae (13-10) at 7:45 p.m., Wednesday at Lakeview, while top-seeded Liberty (19-4) faces fourth-seeded Crestview (15-8) at the same time at Struthers Field House. All four compete in the AAC-Blue Tier, where the Golden Flashes finished 11-1 and the Leopards were second at 10-2. Crestview was fourth at 6-6 and LaBrae finished fifth at 5-7.

Champion swept the Vikings, winning 49-22 on Jan. 11 and 45-37 on Feb. 5. The winner will play second-seeded Garfield (18-5) or third-seeded Kirtland (19-4) in a district final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lakeview.

Liberty downed the Rebels, 64-46, on Dec. 11 and 57-53 on Feb. 10. The winner will play second-seeded South Range (17-6) or third-seeded Columbiana (17-6) in the final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Struthers.

In Division IV districts, there are several intriguing semifinal and finals matchups.

At Grand Valley, top-seeded Maplewood (22-1) and fourth-seeded Bristol (18-6) will battle in a decisive third meeting between the Northeastern Athletic Conference foes. Maplewood won on its home floor 44-37 in overtime on Jan. 2, and Bristol won 40-37 at home Feb. 6, handing the Rockets their lone loss of the campaign. Maplewood won the league title at 15-1 and Bristol went 14-2.

The winner will play second-seeded Cornerstone Christian (18-6) or 11th-seeded Brookfield (9-13) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Grand Valley. The Warriors upset third-seeded Andrews Osborne Academy, 47-41, in a sectional bracket final to give the seven-team AAC-Blue six teams in district semifinals.

In the Mineral Ridge district, top-seeded McDonald (20-2) confronts fifth-seeded Jackson-Milton (14-9) for a third time this season in a 7:45 p.m. semifinal Wednesday. The Blue Devils swept the Blue Jays, winning 55-40 on Dec. 16 and 57-35 on Jan. 27 on their way to finishing 13-1 and sharing the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference title with Western Reserve. Jackson-Milton went 11-4 in league play.

The winner will play either second-seeded Western Reserve (20-4) or third-seeded Newton Falls (16-7) in the final at 4 p.m. Saturday at Mineral Ridge. The Tigers finished third in the AAC-Blue.

bemerine@tribtoday.com

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