ESPN Boston's MIAA Hoop State Finals Picks

ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall and student assistant Chris Bradley give their picks for tomorrow's six MIAA basketball state finals at Worcester's DCU Center.


Division 1: Mansfield (25-2) vs. Springfield Putnam (23-1)

Brendan Hall: Classic clash of styles here, with Putnam's power and athleticism countered by Mansfield's finesse and shooting ability. Count me among those who believe Putnam absolutely has a chance in this one, but the Beavers had better get off to a good start. A 10-point fourth quarter for Mansfield might as well be a 20-point lead, the way they've been closing out games in this playoff run. Pick: Mansfield

Chris Bradley: Talk all you want about their beautifully-run halfcourt offense and their aggressiveness on the glass, but Mansfield’s defensive intensity was what won them the Eastern Mass. final against Central Catholic. Their perimeter defense is going to give Putnam major fits Pick: Mansfield

Division 2: Brighton (20-6) vs. South Hadley (17-7)

Hall: Let's not all totally drink the Kool-Aid with this "team of destiny" narrative. Brighton was supposedly a "team of destiny" after last year's dramatic win over Stoughton at TD Garden, and look where that got them -- a 17-3 first quarter deficit, and a bunch of long faces after falling in the D2 state title game. This year's Bengals appear to have learned their lesson, however. Pick: Brighton

Bradley: Malik James’ fourth quarter performance against Scituate will be talked about for a long time. All year, the Bengals have been able to “turn it on” when necessary and win big ballgames, but that isn’t going to fly against South Hadley. Expect a big game from Nick Simpson Pick: Brighton

Division 3: Danvers (23-2) vs. Smith Academy (22-3)

Hall: Classic snake-in-the-grass matchup here. Smith doesn't have nearly the size of Martha's Vineyard, but bring the same level of chicanery to the table. Juddging by their schedule, and the way they subsequently blitzkrieged D3 West, this is a tree falling in the woods that's made a sonic boom. Pick: Danvers

Bradley: Danvers got quite the scare in the state semifinal game, but it seemed as if they were firing at all cylinders in the fourth quarter when they needed offense most. They’ll carry that momentum into this game, winning by double digits behind a barrage of three-pointers. Pick: Danvers


Division 1: Central Catholic (21-5) vs. Holy Name (23-2)

Hall: Defense wins championships, and while Holy Name is young, they have some terrific individual talent that can hold its own on the defensive end. Plus, long-time head coach Barry Finneron deserves this one, after toiling for four decades on the Holy Name sideline. Pick: Holy Name

Bradley: Casey McLaughlin has put her name in serious contention for the girls Super Team after the way she’s carried the Raiders in the tournament. The big question in this game will be whether or not Holy Name will have the interior defense to slow her down. Pick: Central Catholic

Division 2: Medfield (25-2) vs. Nashoba (22-2)

Hall: Big Blue's intensity is carried from the frontcourt out, and they have owned the glass for most of the year. I don't see much changing here. Pick: Medfield

Bradley: The defense that Medfield played on Reading was something special--their halfcourt trap might be the toughest in the entire state. If Nashoba doesn’t come patient and willing to swing the ball to beat the trap, this one could get out of hand. Pick: Medfield

Division 3: Archbishop Williams (22-5) vs. Lee (19-5)

Hall: Some of us thought Pentucket would quickly do away with Lee in the 2010 D3 Final, but that obviously was the reciprocal of what transpired. I have a similar feeling about this one. Give me the Lee Wildcats, one of Massachusetts' proudest girls basketball traditions, in the upset special of the day. Pick: Lee

Bradley: The guard play was the story for Arhies the other night—expect a similar storyline tomorrow in the D3 final. Look out too, for forward Jaylen Williams to hurt Lee with her scoring ability inside. Pick: Archbishop Williams