Looking deeper at the state boys basketball playoffs

The Baltimore Sun

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association held its state boys basketball draw Sunday with seven area teams earning top seeds in their respective regions among the four classifications.

The regional playoffs are scheduled to start Tuesday, Feb. 26. 

Here's a look at some of the interesting storylines that could unfold in each of the classifications:

Class 4A

No. 15 Westminster (19-3), the Carroll County champion, earned the top seed in the North region, but the Owls have plenty of competition. 

The 12th seed in the North -- on the same half of the bracket as the Owls -- is No. 12 Poly (16-6), while Dulaney (20-2) is the second seed in the region. 

After Poly missed a spot in the Baltimore City championship game with a disappointing loss to No. 8 City in Friday's regular-season finale, the Engineers will be focused on making an extended playoff run and have the players to make them the team to beat in the tough field.

In the Class 4A East, No. 9 Arundel (20-2) earned the second seed with another dominating regular season in Anne Arundel County.

The expected question for the Wildcats is a similar one from the past -- can they find a way to beat North Point of Charles County, the top seed in the region. 

Last season, North Point routed Arundel, 72-52, in the regional final.

Players to watch: Poly junior guard John Crosby; Arundel senior forward Ryan Hill; Dulaney senior guard-forward Gavan Scanlan; Westminster senior center Nick Ellison; Poly senior forward Darrion Stokes-Graham

Class 3A

The North region is loaded with talent, starting with No. 4 Milford Mill. 

The Millers (20-2), the top seed in the region, will have a challenging path to the state tournament at Comcast Center

Patterson, the defending Class 3A state champion, is on their part of the regional bracket as the fifth seed, and the teams could meet in the semifinals in what would be a rematch of last year's classic regional title game. 

The bottom of the bracket features No. 8 City (17-5) as the second seed with Digital Harbor, which has put together deep playoff runs in the past as the tenth seed that likely will see the Knights in the second round.

Players to watch: Milford Mill sophomore guard Justin Jenifer; Milford Mill junior forward Allen Costley; City junior guard Omari George; Patterson sophomore guard Dereck Oliver; Digital Harbor sophomore forward Will Robinson

Class 2A

The entire classification is loaded, with three area teams earning top seeds. 

The deepest region is the North where Loch Raven earned the top seed, but will have immediate tests with a challenging top part of the bracket. 

The class of the talented field is No. 5 Edmondson, seeded fourth with a 18-4 mark, with Owings Mills also in the way. 

The bottom half of the bracket includes No. 13 Lake Clifton (15-7), the defending Class 2A state champion, and Randallstown (17-5).

In the South region, No. 10 Oakland Mills (22-0) enters the playoffs with a perfect record for the second time in three years. 

In the 2010-11 season, the Scorpions went 25-0 before falling to Gwynn Park in the regional title game. 

Gwynn Park remains in the mix to challenge Oakland Mills, along with Largo and Calvert.

Joppatowne is having an excellent season in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference and earned the top seed in the East.

In the West, South Carroll will look to make a return trip to state semifinals as the third seed.

Players to watch: Oakland Mills senior forward Lavon Long; Edmondson senior guard Darrius Walker; Randallstown senior guard Ahmaad Wilson; South Carroll senior forward Gavin McTavish; Edmondson senior guard Isaiah Tripp

Class 1A   

The Class 1A playoffs always brings the same question -- can any team stay close with three-time defending champion Dunbar? 

The No. 2 Poets (20-2) -- the top seed in the South region -- are primed to win the program's 15th state title, which would set them apart from any other school. The Poets' 14 state titles ties them for the most in the state with Allegany.  

Fellow City teams Ben Franklin-Masonville and Forest Park will try to get in Dunbar's way.

In the North region, No. 11 New Town (19-2) earned the top seed to put the Titans in position for a return trip to the state title game. Last year, Dunbar defeated New Town, 60-36. 

Players to watch: Dunbar senior guard Daxter Miles; Dunbar senior guard Kamau Stokes; New Town junior guard Danny Shand; Forest Park junior guard Rysheed Corbin; Ben Franklin-Masonville senior guard Gabe Shongo

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