The NCHSAA basketball playoffs begin Tuesday and conclude with state championship games March 6 at Providence Grove and Wheatmore high schools. Here are the first-round matchups and outlooks for area teams (listed alphabetically with seeds):
No. 9 seed Class 2-A West, at No. 8 West Stanly (11-1)
Outlook for the Camels: The random draw was not kind to Atkins, which not only does not get a home game in the first round but has to travel to Oakboro to face a team that didn't even win its split conference. If the Camels win, they're either looking at a 170-mile drive to Hendersonville or a trip to Ledford to face a strong Panthers team.
No. 14 seed Class 2-A West, at No. 3 North Lincoln (12-2)
Outlook for the Falcons: Forbush won't have an easy time of it in Lincolnton against a senior-laden Knights team that forces a lot of turnovers and plays at a quick tempo. Even if the Falcons win, they're probably looking at a second-round trip to North Davidson and a night of trying to contain Jamarien Dalton.
No. 12 seed Class 4-A West, at No. 5 Page (12-2)
Outlook for the Bobcats: Glenn was the only team to beat Central Piedmont 4-A champion Reynolds, and the Bobcats' two losses were by a total of seven points. The Glenn trio of sophomore Sterling Vaughn and juniors Jeremiah Scales and Zion Dixon is already a nightmare for opponents and should be even more dangerous next season. But first is a matchup with Metro 4-A champion Page, which is led by steady senior guard Jaden Ellis. A win by the Bobcats could mean a third meeting this season with Reynolds.
MOUNT AIRY (11-3)
No. 6 seed Class 1-A West, vs. No. 11 Huntersville Christ the King (10-3)
Outlook for the Granite Bears: Winning the Northwest 1-A says a lot about Mount Airy's toughness, and the Granite Bears have won 10 of their last 11 games. They face a Christ the King team that dropped two of its last three, with the only win coming against a home school team. Mount Airy would probably be looking at a trip to Boonville to face Starmount in the second round.
MOUNT TABOR (11-2)
No. 6 seed Class 3-A West, vs. No. 11 Charlotte Catholic (11-2)
Outlook for the Spartans: Mount Tabor is one of the hottest teams around after winning its last 10 games and rolling through the Piedmont Triad 3-A Conference. Senior forward Daniel Fulp is the leader of a group that has grown up over the course of the season. Charlotte Catholic's only losses were to an unbeaten Matthews Weddington team that is one of the state's best. Both teams really get after it defensively.
NORTH DAVIDSON (11-0)
No. 6 seed Class 2-A West, vs. No. 11 East Lincoln (11-3)
Outlook for the Black Knights: Most conversations about North Davidson focus on senior guard Jamarien Dalton and with good reason. The senior guard, who will play wide receiver at Elon, averages 28.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. But Tedric Jenkins and Travarius Moore are also standouts on a team loaded with seniors. If the Black Knights win, they're either at North Lincoln or home against Forbush.
No. 4 seed Class 4-A West, vs. No. 13 Charlotte Myers Park (5-2)
Outlook for the Demons: Reynolds faces a Myers Park team that has only played seven games because of an early COVID-19 pause in Mecklenburg County, so the Mustangs may be a bit of a mystery. There's no mystery to how the Demons won the Central Piedmont 4-A title. Seniors Caden Davis (16.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and Tyreik Leach (12.2 ppg, 2.8 apg) lead the way for a Reynolds team that will be home against either Page or Glenn, the only team to beat the Demons, in the second round if it advances.
WINSTON-SALEM PREP (8-6)
No. 15 seed Class 1-A West, at No. 2 Hayesville (14-0)
Outlook for the Phoenix: No, this is not the Andre Gould-coached juggernaut that dominated the Class 1-A for the past decade. But even with Gould gone to Quality Education Academy, Winston-Salem Prep is a lot tougher than the typical No. 15 seed. Still, winning after a nearly 250-mile drive to unbeaten Hayesville may be too much to ask of this Phoenix team.
BISHOP McGUINNESS (8-4)
No. 15 seed Class 1-A East, at No. 2 Bessemer City (8-4)
Outlook for the Villians: Bishop has to hit the road, but this is a matchup the Villains can win. It also beats making the 280-mile drive to Hiwassee Dam, which was Bishop's first-round opponent when the preliminary brackets were released. The Villains have to like their chances if sophomore wing Tate Chappell is healthy.
EAST FORSYTH (12-1)
No. 4 seed Class 4-A West, vs. No. 13 Ragsdale (11-3)
Outlook for the Eagles: A win over West Forsyth in a tiebreaker game for the Central Piedmont 4-A title gave East Forsyth a home game in the first round against Ragsdale. The Tigers lost a playoff game of their own with Northwest Guilford for the Metro 4-A championship, so both of these teams have already felt postseason pressure.
EAST SURRY (12-0)
No. 1 seed Class 1-A West, vs. No. 16 Clover Garden (12-2)
Outlook for the Cardinals: Excellence is nothing new for East Surry, particularly in girls basketball. This year's edition is led by senior Dasia Lambert (16.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.8 apg, 3.8 spg) and junior Cadence Lawson (12.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg). The X-factor for another deep playoff run could be freshman forward Bella Hutchens (10.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg).
NORTH DAVIDSON (10-2)
No. 12 seed Class 2-A West, at No. 5 Claremont Bunker Hill (10-0)
Outlook for the Black Knights: A pair of losses to Central Carolina 2-A champion Salisbury were the only blemishes on North Davidson's record. Junior guard Emily Hege (24.6 ppg) leads the Black Knights against a Bunker Hill team whose schedule was paused for at least 10 days twice. If North Davidson wins Tuesday, it will likely travel to Salisbury again in the second round.
NORTH SURRY (9-3)
No. 10 seed Class 2-A West, at No. 7 West Wilkes (11-0)
Outlook for the Greyhounds: North Surry faces a West Wilkes team that dominated the Mountain Valley 2-A/1-A, but the Greyhounds come into the playoffs having won eight of their last nine games. If North Surry wins, it will have a winnable game with either a Wilkes Central team that was beaten twice by West Wilkes or Burnsville Mountain Heritage.
WEST FORSYTH (10-3)
No. 15 seed Class 4-A West, at No. 2 South Caldwell (6-6)
Outlook for the Titans: West Forsyth's 51-43 loss to East Forsyth in the tiebreaker game for the Central Piedmont 4-A title cost the Titans dearly in seeding, but they did get a favorable first-round matchup. South Caldwell is only seeded as a conference champion because it was the top 4-A finisher in a split 4-A/3-A league. The Spartans finished 5-6 in the Northwestern and were fourth in the standings.
WEST STOKES (11-0)
No. 1 seed Class 2-A West, vs. No. 16 Ledford (11-3)
Outlook for the Wildcats: The Wildcats cruised to the Western Piedmont 2-A title while holding opponents to an average of 28 points per game. But West Stokes' first-round opponent is not your typical No. 16 seed. Ledford's only losses were to Central Carolina 2-A champion Salisbury (twice) and conference runner-up North Davidson. The Panthers do not have any seniors on their roster, so experience may work in West Stokes' favor.
Contact Joe Sirera at 336-373-7034 and follow @JoeSireraSports on Twitter.