Previewing area teams in the MPSSAA girls basketball state semifinals

All games at Towson University's SECU Arena.

THURSDAY

Class 4A

NO. 4 CATONSVILLE (22-3) vs. BETHESDA-CHEVY CHASE (21-4)

Time: 3 p.m.

Outlook: Catonsville is aiming for its second straight championship fueled by a milestone year for 5-foot-10 senior F-G Jasmine Dickey, who scored her 2,000th career point, and coach Mike Mohler, who won his 500th career game, both in the sectional final. Dickey averages 19.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and four steals and is almost unstoppable in the clutch with big performances late in all three regional playoff games as well as last year’s state final. Senior G Jameila Barrett (18.3 points, 6.5 rebounds) is also having a stellar season and has scored more than 1,100 career points. The Comets, who have lost only to No. 2 McDonogh, No. 3 Roland Park and Bishop McNamara, have one common opponent with the Barons: Paint Branch. The Comets won, 76-41, in the regional final while BCC lost, 55-44, in the season opener. But the Barons, from Montgomery County, defeated a strong Richard Montgomery team twice in the past four games, including 56-44 in the regional final. In their first appearance in the state semifinals, the Barons are led by two seniors, 6-foot F Caitlyn Clendenin (16.4 points, 9.6 rebounds) and 5-9 G Charlotte Lowndes (12.3 points, 3.8 assists).

Class 3A

C. MILTON WRIGHT (23-2) vs. FREDERICK (24-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Outlook: The Mustangs are back in the state semifinals for the first time since 1996. They will meet defending champion Frederick, which has one of the state’s top players in 5-7 junior G Makayla Daniels. In last year’s title victory, Daniels scored 47 points, third most in state tournament history. This season, the Arkansas commit averages 19 points, 4.5 assists and three steals. The Cadets, aiming for their third state title, have lost only to Middletown and No. 1 St. Frances, and they’ve won 21 straight games. The Mustangs lost only to No. 5 Howard and Centennial and have won 18 in a row. Their top two players — 5-6 senior G Moriah Snyder (13 points, three assists) and 6-foot senior forward Sydney Frank (11 points, five rebounds) — will play lacrosse in college, but they’re not bad on the court either. Both teams have been stingy with the Mustangs giving up just 28.2 points per game while the Cadets allow 37.2. The Cadets, however, average 63.7 points while C. Milton Wright scores 47.2.

NO. 6 POLY (21-4) vs. NO. 7 LONG REACH (20-2)

Time: 9 p.m.

Outlook: One of the hottest tickets in the state tournament pits the hot-shooting Lightning against a stingy Poly team, both aiming for their first state title. Long Reach has four players who combine for 60.5 points per game while the Engineers give up just 27.6 per game. Poly will need to contain the Lightning shooters, especially 5-5 junior G Lyric Swann (19.2 points, 37 percent from 3-point range) and 5-7 senior G Kiana Williams (17.5 points, 7.2 assists). Coach Kelli Cofield’s co-Howard County champs must take care of the ball to keep the Baltimore City champion Engineers from using their swarming defense to create offense. That defense helped Poly upset Oxon Hill in the sectional final and it helped it come close against McDonogh, the team’s only common opponent with the Lightning. The Engineers fell to the No. 2 Eagles, 58-54, while Long Reach lost, 67-32. Poly’s balanced offense is led by 5-10 sophomore F Dasia Townes and 5-7 junior G Janya Lilly. This is the Engineers’s sixth trip to the final four in the past seven years under coach Kendall Peace-Able. Long Reach is in the state semifinals for the first time.

FRIDAY

Class 2A

OAKLAND MILLS (17-8) vs. QUEEN ANNE’S (23-2)

Time: 5 p.m.

Outlook: Oakland Mills is back in the tournament for the second time in four years while Queen Anne’s is making its first appearance in the semifinals.The Scorpions won their only state title in 1998 and first-year coach Walt Hagins is trying to build back to that level with a foundation of young players on a roster of just eight girls and no seniors. They took their lumps at times in a tough Howard County league this winter but defeated Glenelg for a third time, 47-45, in the sectional final. Oakland Mills beat Westlake, 60-44, to win the region. The Scorpions average 47.6 points per game and most of it comes from their top three players — 5-9 junior G Marley Grenway (15.6 points), 5-6 sophomore G Jazmine Washington (11.6 points) and 6-1 junior F Aislynn Riggs (11.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 6.6 blocks). The Lions, who defeated Ekton, 63-51, in their regional championship, average 54.9 points. Their scoring is more balanced, led by 5-9 senior F Kelly Cavanagh (11.4 points, 6.5 rebounds) and 5-10 junior F MaKenzy Hudock (8.1 points, 8.8 rebounds).

Class 1A

NO. 12 PIKESVILLE (21-2) vs. SOUTHERN-GARRETT (23-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Outlook: Former Towson Catholic coach Mike Dukes took over the Panthers this season and has them in the state semifinals for the first time in program history. With a few holdovers and some key transfers, Pikesville made it to the Baltimore County championship game, where it fell to Class 4A semifinalist Catonsville. Dukes hopes the experience of playing Catonsville at SECU Arena will lessen the jitters Friday night. In their 48-35 win over Dunbar for the regional title, the Panthers showed their strength — the inside game of 5-11 F Charia Roberts (17 points, 13 rebounds), 6-1 junior F Teylah Saunders and 5-10 freshman F Kristen Sterling. They have a strong backcourt, too, led by 5-5 senior G Kayla Jackson and 5-6 sophomore G Tyra Robinson (12 points). Pikesville meets a Garrett County squad aiming for its fourth state title and its first since 2014. The Rams have been to the title game the past four years. Always fundamentally sound with strong shooters, Southern-Garrett suffered its only loss to Keyser, W.Va. Led by 5-9 senior G Courtney Roth (16.6 points, 35 percent from 3-point range), the Rams have an otherwise balanced offense.

COPPIN ACADEMY (21-3) vs. LARGO (18-8)

Time: 9 p.m.

Outlook: A public charter school in Baltimore City, Coppin Academy made it to the semifinals in its first year participating in the state playoffs. The Golden Eagles cruised through their city schedule and lost only to No. 8 John Carroll and two out-of-town opponents. With an average winning margin of almost 30 points this season, they had little trouble in the playoffs and, despite considerable foul trouble, defeated Mardela, 75-52, for the regional championship. Kayla Henderson, a 5-6 sophomore guard who scored 35 points against Mardela, leads the Eagles with 24 points and 7.5 assists while 5-10 senior G Tylea Galloway chips in another 20 points. The Eagles will meet last year’s state finalist and the 2016 champion Largo, as the Lions aim for their third title in their 11th trip to the semifinals. Largo, from Prince George’s County, cruised past McDonough in the regional final, 71-39, led by 19 points from 5-11 senior F Sasha Francis and 18 points from 5-7 senior G Brianna Jones.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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