The SCISA state basketball playoffs begin today and don’t be surprised to see the usual cast of characters and coaches vying for state championships on Feb. 23 at the Sumter Civic Center.

Pinewood Prep and Northwood Academy should meet in the girls’ Class AAA championship.

The Porter-Gaud boys and Charleston Collegiate boys are favorites to win the Class AAA and AA titles, respectively.

The Pinewood girls are seeking their third straight state championship and fourth in five years as coach Nancy Beatty has turned the program into a powerhouse. The Panthers have four starters back from last year’s team.

Last year, Pinewood blew a 14-point second-half lead but held on to gain a 52-51 victory. Northwood had a chance with 1.1 seconds left and the ball under Pinewood basket. But the inbounds pass was stolen.

Two years ago, Pinewood jumped to a 16-0 lead against Northwood and held on for a 44-37 victory.

The Chargers are trying to end a three game-losing streak in the championship. In 2010, Northwood had another tough-luck loss despite a valiant fourth-quarter effort. Hilton Head Prep held off the Chargers for a 61-54 victory.

Pinewood and Northwood both have talent, and Northwood’s Amber Campbell heads the cast. Last week, she became only the ninth girls player in state history to score at least 3,000 points in a career when she scored 25 in a 48-45 loss to the Panthers.

The Porter-Gaud boys ruled SCISA basketball from 2003-05, winning three state championships in a row. But the Cyclones haven’t been able to claim the top prize since then. This year’s team has the talent to capture the spoils of victory. K.J. James and Michael Preddy head a talented team coached by John Pearson.

Charleston Collegiate is No. 1 in the polls, but the Sun Devils know anything can happen in the playoffs. Last year, Charleston Collegiate was favored to win the Class AA title, but Spartanburg Christian knocked off the Sun Devils 62-61 in a semifinal game.

The Sun Devils have three major college prospects: Ty Solomon, Je’Quan Perry and Khalil Davis.