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7 area high school basketball teams in playoff action tonight

February Madness hits second gear tonight for all but one local high school basketball team left in the upper state playoffs, and the race to the finish line is heating up.

Same as in college basketball, which calls its tournament "March Madness," its a case of keep winning, keep playing; lose, and the season is over.

Seven teams tip it up tonight. Lancaster has a road game at Wren on Saturday. So let's take a closer look at the match-ups.

Nation Ford's girls were scheduled to host Seneca last night in Class AAA play, but since the school's boys are still playing, the only pair from the same school, the game was moved to tonight as part of a doubleheader.

The girls play at 6:30, followed by the boys at 8.

The other games are Wren at Clover and Northwestern at Greenwood in Class AAAA girls; Fort Mill at Eastside and Berea at South Pointe in Class AAA boys and Christ Church at Great Falls in Class A boys.

Want a favorite to make it to Columbia on the first Saturday in March? Pick John Smith's Great Falls Red Devils. Led by Xavier Holmes, Class A's Co-Player of the Year, the Red Devils are 23-1 and won last year's state title.

Under Smith, the Red Devils have made it to 17 championship games and have won seven.

Clover's girls are one of those teams that does the right things to win. There are still several rounds left, but coach Sherer Hopkins has taken the Blue Eagles to two title games and they can't be counted out.

Possibly looming in the next round is J.L. Mann, which had several momentous battles with Clover when both were in Class AAA.

Northwestern and Greenwood last met in the playoffs in 2009. Like this, it was a second round and Greenwood had too much speed for the Trojans. But Northwestern ran Laurens out of the gym in the first round and had no problems pushing the ball up the court.

The three local Class AAA boys teams have games with squads from one of the most basketball-rich areas in the state, Greenville.

Berea was a No. 4 seed last season when it met Nation Ford and knocked the talented Falcons out 50-46. But that means little to South Pointe, which has top scorer Manzey Miller back and seems to be peaking under first-year coach Melvin Watson.

In Southside, Nation Ford gets a team strong in tradition that lost in the upper state finals last season. Southside played in three straight Class AA championship games from 2007-2009, winning the final two under legendary coach Louie Golden.

Fort Mill's opponent, Eastside, is not a team with the tradition of Southside or even Fort Mill, but the Eagles are usually competitive in basketball and will be out quickly if they can't stop the Yellow Jackets' three-point shooters.

Fort Mill coach Dwayne Hartsoe came from South Pointe this year and has a state title under his belt. In his second season, Hartsoe's Williston-Elko squad beat Smith's Great Falls team for the 1995 Class A title.

The Yellow Jackets won a Class AAAA championship in 2007 under former coach Bailey Jackson, an assistant varsity girls coach and administrator at Clover.

Single games are scheduled for 7 p.m.

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