Girls basketball state semifinals
Winston Churchill (22-2) vs. No. 3 Arundel (22-3)
When: Today, 3 p.m.
Outlook: The Wildcats, chasing after their third state title, overwhelmed the East region, outscoring their three opponents by an average of 33 points. They will find the going much tougher at UMBC, starting with defending champion Churchill from Montgomery County, which comes into the game with a 19-game winning streak that includes a 59-52 victory over Arundel on Dec. 28. The Wildcats will try to offset the Bulldogs' size advantage -- their frontcourt is 6 feet or taller -- and play of senior G Alis Freeman with relentless defense and red-hot shooting (they hit 68 percent from the field in Saturday's 81-52 win over Meade in the region final). Arundel sophomore G Alex McGuire averages 18.1 ppg and 7.8 rpg; senior floor leader Jessie Collins averages 14.3 ppg and 5.5 apg; and senior wing Amanda Hernandez averages 13.2 ppg with the help of 66-percent shooting from three-point range. Sophomore F Tiffany Johnson (7.4 ppg, team-high 8 rpg) will have to hold her own inside.
No. 2 Woodlawn (23-0) vs. Oxon Hill (20-3)
When: Today, 5 p.m.
Outlook: The Warriors have worked all season to get another chance to prove themselves in the state semifinals, garnering their first Baltimore County title in 12 years along the way. Last season's state semifinal meeting with the Clippers of Prince George's County ended in disappointment for the Warriors, who turned the ball over 27 times and missed 12 first-half layups to help Oxon Hill to a 63-40 victory. Although some of the names have changed, these teams are similar to the squads that met last year. Expect a balanced offense from both, but likely a closer contest now that the Warriors, who do not have a senior, have gained state tournament experience. Each team has three players scoring in double figures -- Woodlawn guards Tiara Wildy (17 ppg) and Brittney Taylor (12 ppg) and post player Ronda Shelley (10 ppg), and Clippers guards Denesha Denian (15 ppg) and Crystal Payne (12.5 ppg) and C Latricia Jones (10 ppg).
No. 6 Milford Mill (21-3) vs. Patuxent (20-5)
When: Today, 9 p.m.
Outlook: In their quest for a sixth straight trip to the state final -- and their first title -- the Millers meet a Calvert County team that was 9-15 two years ago. The Panthers are driven by the 6-2 duo of Charese Baldwin and Amanda Robinson, who combine for 32.8 ppg and 28.9 rpg. The Millers rely on a couple of swing players, Qiana Cheatham (13.3 ppg) and Candyce Jeter (12.8 ppg), but they will need a big game from 5-10 starting F Melanie Gordon and 5-10 C Eugenna Carson off the bench. The two teams have played no common opponents, but the Panthers lost to No. 18 St. Mary's, 46-38. The Saints rely on an up-tempo game, as do the Millers, so Milford Mill's speed and quick-strike transition game could play in its favor. The Millers scored impressive early-season wins over Largo (40-38) and Douglass-PG (70-52).
Aberdeen (13-12) vs. Walkersville (22-1)
When: Tomorrow, 3 p.m.
Outlook: Aberdeen second-year coach Brandi Barnes is hoping last year's semifinal loss to Hammond will give her girls the big-game experience they need to go further this year. The Eagles' journey to UMBC has been a rocky one, as they got off to a 2-6 start and have struggled to score. But they are playing as well as they have all season behind explosive junior guards Rudi Johnson (9.8 ppg, 5.5 apg), Tameka McDonald (9.5 ppg) and Nakita Bell, the team's emotional leader and defensive stopper. The Eagles have a tough task in front of them in Frederick County's Walkersville, which is riding a 15-game winning streak and is the two-time Monocacy Valley Athletic League champion. The Lions are loaded with talented and multi-dimensional players in senior F Koffi Harrison (12.3 ppg, 10 rpg), junior PG DJ Vernoy (9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.6 apg) and junior G Chelsea Trout (15.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
Catonsville (16-7) vs. DuVal (20-2)
When: Tomorrow, 5 p.m.
Outlook: In another rematch of a 2002 semifinal, the Comets will try to end the Tigers' historic run. Last year's state crown was No. 7 for the Prince George's County school, more than any other team in state tournament history. DuVal has a defense that allowed just 39.1 points against a tough county schedule. The Tigers had that same tough defense last season, but Catonsville had more trouble with 6-2 Ifeome Onuaku, who scored 24 points and grabbed 24 rebounds. Fortunately for the Comets, Onuaku graduated, leaving a more balanced offense led by Sherika Thomas (15 ppg). The Comets, however, must shoot better than they did in last year's game when they missed their first nine shots. Catonsville, which won three of its four regional playoff games by three points or fewer, is led by the trio of Becky Clipp (12.7 ppg) Carly Wasserbach (13 ppg) and Sandy Wasserbach (11 ppg).
No. 16 Dunbar (21-4) vs. Loch Raven (16-4)
When: Tomorrow, 9 p.m.
Outlook: The Poets are going after their fourth straight state title. Only one other team has won as many or more consecutive crowns -- Brooklyn Park, which took five in a row through 1989. The Raiders, however, are making their first appearance in the state tournament in 27 years. Both teams have similar defensive statistics -- Dunbar allows 35.1 ppg while Loch Raven gives up 34.8 -- but the Poets have played a much tougher schedule, including seven games against teams that have been ranked in The Sun's poll. Senior guards Laura Queen (13.4 ppg) and Liz Entwisle (11.4 ppg) lead the Raiders. The Poets have only one player averaging in double figures --G Shalane Price at 13.3 ppg -- but they also get a combined 16.2 ppg and 11.7 rpg from F Jolunda Leake and C Ciarra Jones.