Outlook: The Huskies get a second shot at two-time defending champion Calvert, which knocked them out in the semifinals last year in their first state tournament appearance. The Cavaliers used a 10-point run in the final six minutes to secure the win, 42-31. The top priority for the Huskies will be to cut down on the turnovers after giving the ball away 28 times in that game. While the Huskies rely most on 6-0 sophomore G Qalea Ismail (14.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists) and 5-9 senior F-G Morgan Golec (14.9 points), they have a handful of other players who can step up, and they likely will need to because the Cavaliers average 68 points per game, while the Huskies average 57.1. The Cavaliers, ranked No. 7 in The Washington Post, are led by 5-7 senior G Alexis Smith (18 points, seven rebounds). Patterson Mill first-year coach Holly Ismail, an assistant on last year's team, hopes a tougher schedule — four of their losses were to ranked teams — will help her team be even more prepared for this year's final four.
Western Tech (19-6) vs. Southern-Garrett (22-2)
Time: 7 p.m.
Outlook: In their first trip to the state tournament last season, the Wolverines made it to the final and put up a strong fight before falling to Dunbar, 50-42. Only two starters return from that team, but they learned a lot about playing Western Maryland teams after defeating Fort Hill in last year's semifinal. The Wolverines don't have the same height as last season, but they look to run, while Southern's style is more patient half-court offense. For the second straight year, 5-3 junior G Sydney Clopton leads the Wolverines in scoring with 16.4 points, while 5-7 junior G Ebonee Dixon adds 11.5 points. Both teams average in the low 50's scoring, but the Wolverines only give up 34 points per game, while the Rams, from Garrett County, allow 41. Coach Nolan Roe's Wolverines also have a big edge in rebounding average, 35-19. The Rams are looking for their third state title and their first since 2007.
Dunbar (17-8) vs. Mardela (20-5)
Time: 9 p.m.
Outlook: With six state titles, including the last two in Class 1A, Dunbar could become only the third team in tournament history to win seven, joining Mount Hebron and DuVal. This time, coach Wardell Selby's Poets come into the state semifinals without a dominating player, but with a balanced group that is out to prove it can win a title in its own way. Junior G Shamar Prilliman leads the Poets with 8.4 points, while senior forward Brina Smith adds 8.1, but almost anyone can lead the team in scoring in any particular game. While both teams average about the same number of points and give up about the same number, Mardela averages nine more rebounds. The Warriors, seeking their first state championship, have a pair of high-scoring guards in 5-9 juniors Shakema Dashiell (21 points) and Briana Cook (20 points). Mardela coach Kesha Cooksaid that even on the Eastern Shore, "the name Dunbar strikes fear into everyone's heart," but that she also has a young team determined to make its mark for a program that has been to the semifinals three of the last four years.