After more than three months of regular-season play, the postseason begins this week for high school teams around South Carolina.
Last season, A.C. Flora boys and Dreher and Spring Valley girls won state crowns, while Irmo boys and Keenan girls made it to the title games.
Here is breakdown of Midlands teams and their path to making it to the Colonial Life Center in the first week of March:
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Region 5-5A co-champions Blythewood and Irmo made deep runs in the playoffs last year and have the capabilities to do the same this year.
The Bengals, who made it to the Upper State semifinals last year, open the postseason against Stratford. Blythewood has won nine games in a row.
Irmo has been clicking down the stretch and is led by seniors R.J. Gunn, Winston Hill and Noah Jenkins. The Yellow Jackets host Wando in the first round and could face West Florence in round two.
Dutch Fork and Lexington both begin the playoffs on the road. The Silver Foxes are at Conway while the Wildcats go to West Ashley. Lexington senior Darius Bryant scored a school-record 42 points on Friday and hit 10 3-pointers.
Spring Valley opens up the playoffs at Sumter.
Upper State No. 1 seeds: T.L. Hanna, Wade Hampton, Dorman, Fort Mill
Lower State No. 1 seeds: Goose Creek, Sumter, Blythewood
A.C. Flora looks to keep its streak of state championship appearances going and won’t have to leave Columbia to do it.
The Falcons began the season ranked No. 1 and started slow, but ended up as Region 5-4A co-champs and have homecourt advantage in the first three rounds. But the Falcons won’t have an easy road. If Flora beats Marlboro County in the opening round, a matchup with No. 9 Crestwood and Murray State signee Ja’ Morant looms in round two, with a possible meeting with No. 1 and unbeaten Wilson in the third round.
Lower Richland shared the Region 5-4A title with A.C. Flora and opens up against North Myrtle Beach. If the Diamond Hornets win, they might face No. 1 Lakewood, which won its first region title in school history, in the second round.
In the Upper State, Ridge View won the Region 3-4A title and gets the first two playoff games at home. The Blazers face Daniel in the first round.
Westwood finished behind the Blazers and handed them their only region loss Friday. If the Redhawks get by Belton-Honea Path in the first round, they might face No. 3 Aiken in the second round.
Richland Northeast is at Wren.
Upper State No. 1 seeds: Wren, Ridge View, Eastside, Aiken
Lower State No. 1 seeds: A.C. Flora, Wilson, Lakewood, Berekley
Brookland-Cayce enters the playoffs on a 12-game winning streak. The Bearcats face Bluffton in the first round and are guaranteed to be home for the first two games.
Pelion is in the playoffs for the first time in 24 years and travels to Ridgeland-Hardeeville in the first round. Swansea is at Wade Hampton
In the Upper State, Camden hosts Newberry, while Fairfield Central is at Chapman.
Upper State No. 1 seeds: Chester, Clinton, Southside, Seneca
Lower State No. 1 seeds: Ridgeland-Hardeeville, Brookland-Cayce, Dillon, Bishop England
With the state’s top prospect in Jalek Felton, Gray Collegiate is the favorite to win the Class 2A title in its first year of postseason eligibility.
The War Eagles have homecourt advantage in the first three rounds. Gray Collegiate opens up against Chensee.
The War Eagles’ biggest obstacle will come from Region 3-2A foe Keenan, which lost to Gray Collegiate twice this season. The Raiders would like one more crack at the War Eagles after squandering a 15-point lead the last time the teams met.
Keenan hosts Blacksburg in the first round.
Other 2A Upper State matchups include Saluda at St. Joseph’s and North Central at Greenville Tech.
Upper State No. 1 seeds: St. Joseph’s, Gray Collegiate, Greenville Tech, Lee Central
Lower State No. 1 seeds: Marion, Burke, Calhoun County
Spring Valley shared the Region 5-5A title with Irmo in coach Megan Assey’s first year, and will be at home for the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Vikings host James Island in the opening round.
Irmo won eight straight games to finish the season. The Yellow Jackets host West Ashley in the first round.
Lexington, Dutch Fork and Blythewood will open on the road. The Wildcats are at West Florence; Dutch Fork at Wando at Blythewood at Conway.
Upper State No. 1 seeds: T.L. Hanna, Wade Hampton, Dorman, Rock Hill
Lower State No. 1 seeds: Goose Creek, Conway, Spring Valley
Ridge View swept through Region 3-4A and carries a 17-game winning streak into the postseason.
But the Blazers must replace second-leading scorer Erica Tisdale, who is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Ridge View opens against Daniel and will be home for the first two rounds. Ridge View could face Greenville in round three.
Westwood made it to the Upper State semifinals last year and opens at home against Pickens. If the Redhawks win, they likely will face No. 1 North Augusta in the second round. Richland Northeast is at Daniel.
In the Lower State, Lower Richland won the Region 5-4A and has homecourt advantage in the first three rounds. The Diamond Hornets open against St. James and might face Myrtle Beach in the third round.
A.C. Flora travels to Wilson in the first round and Dreher heads to Myrtle Beach in a rematch of last year’s 4A championship game.
Upper State No. 1 seeds: Greenville, Ridge View, Greer, North Augusta
Lower State No. 1 seeds: Lower Richland, Myrtle Beach, Crestwood, Hilton Head
Swansea enters the playoffs as the Midlands’ lone unbeaten team and is ranked No. 1.
The Tigers have a talented group of underclassmen led by Region 5-3A Player of the Year Danae McNeal, and open the playoffs up against first-year program May River.
Brookland-Cayce is at Battery Creek, and Gilbert is at Ridgeland-Hardeeville.
In the Upper State, Newberry went unbeaten in Region 4-3A and hosts Camden in the opening round. The Bulldogs might face Region 4-3A champion Fairfield Central, which has homecourt advantage, in the third round.
Mid-Carolina and Columbia begin the playoffs on the road.
Upper State No. 1 seeds: Fairfield Central, Newberry, Emerald, Seneca
Lower State No. 1 seeds: Ridgeland-Hardeeville, Swansea, Dillon, Bishop England
Keenan went unbeaten in region play and has homecourt advantage for the first three rounds as it tries to get back to its second consecutive state title game.
The Raiders’ toughest test might take place in the third round against Christ Church, which hosts Eau Claire in the first round. Gray Collegiate is in the playoffs for the first time and hosts St. Joseph’s, and Saluda is at Landrum.
In the Lower State, Batesburg-Leesville faces Whale Branch in the first round. The Panthers went undefeated in Region 5-2A play.
Upper State No. 1 seeds: Christ Church, Keenan, Ninety-Six, Andrew Jackson
Lower State No. 1 seeds: Mullins, Burke, Batesburg-Leesville