Last state appearance: 2012
Entering the tournament, the Eagles (23-3) are certainly the heavy favorite. The program is looking to repeat as state champions and reach the finals for the third consecutive year.
In last season’s 3A title game, University of Maryland-bound center Brionna Jones had a game-high 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead Aberdeen past River Hill.
Jones tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee back in early January but the Eagles haven’t skipped a beat in her absence thanks to kid sister Stephanie, a freshman.
Stephanie Jones – a 6-foot-1 guard – leads the Harford County school with 12.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
Four of the five starters for Aberdeen are underclassman, however, which may be a factor once the young players step on the floor at UMBC under the bright lights.
“We expect them to handle things like they do every other game,” Eagles coach Amber Milnes said. “When they step on the court they know it’s all about business. So we expect there to be nothing different this week. There is still senior leadership. Even though Bri is injured, she’s still a big part of our team.”
Aberdeen has gone 50-4 over the past two seasons, only losing to nationally ranked Riverdale Baptist (three times) and Hoover from Alabama.
“With the schedule that we’ve played, it doesn’t seem like we’ve had a day off,” Milnes said. “By this point in the season, the girls are very well tuned. The pressure of defending is in the background. It’s not something they think about or concentrate on.”
Last state appearance: 2004
The Hornets present a formidable challenge for Aberdeen in their semifinals matchup because they rank first among the four semifinalists in scoring (66.4 points per game) and rebounding (46 boards per contest).
Damascus has height not only in the paint but also on the perimeter. Kelli Prange – a 6-foot-4 center – paces the team with 16 points and seven rebounds per night. Guard Jenna Kaufman (5-foot-11) contributes 10 points per game, while Becky Barrett (6-foot-1) leads the Hornets in rebounding with over 10 each game.
“We like to go up-tempo offensively but we’ve been successful this year using our size,” coach Steve Pisarski said. “We’ve been able to do a good job rebounding and that helps getting the ball out so we can go.”