Previewing area teams in the MPSSAA boys basketball state semifinals

All games at Maryland’s Xfinity Center.

THURSDAY

Class 3A

NO. 7 MILFORD MILL (20-3) vs. THOMAS JOHNSON (23-3)

Time: 3 p.m.

Outlook: After having to forfeit a regular-season game that cost them a spot in the Baltimore County championship game, the Millers turned that disappointment into motivation. In reaching their 15th state tournament, they beat Baltimore County champion Woodlawn and the team that replaced them in the county final, Dundalk, to claim the North region title. Jordan Goodwin and Ugo Obasi are a quality 1-2 scoring punch alongside a strong supporting cast that plays tough defense. The Patriots lean on guard Richard Rivas and the inside play of J.R. Powe — both scored 22 points in their 64-51 win over Rockville for the West region title. Milford Mill has won six state titles, the last coming in 2013. Thomas Johnson, a winner of seven titles from Frederick County, is making its first tournament appearance since 2002.

NO. 4 POLY (20-6) vs. STEPHEN DECATUR (18-7)

Time: 5 p.m.

Outlook: The defending state champion Engineers played a challenging regular-season schedule to toughen up for the playoffs, and it paid off in Saturday’s 60-54 win at Great Mills for the South region title. They were down by nine at the midway point of the fourth quarter, but never wavered. All-Metro senior guard Demetrius Mims led the way with 18 points as Poly, already Baltimore City champions, tries to repeat at states. Sophomore forward Justin Lewis has emerged as a dominant threat and the Engineers have plenty of experience to close out wins. Their priority defensively will be stopping Stephen Decatur senior guard Kevon Voyles, who scored 38 points in the Seahawks’ 60-51 win over Centennial for the East region title. Stephen Decatur, from Worcester County, is playing in its third straight state semifinal in a bid to win the program’s second state title with the first coming in 1970.

Class 4A

NO. 9 PERRY HALL (19-6) vs. GAITHERSBURG (20-5)

Time: 7 p.m.

Outlook: After an inconsistent regular season, the defending state champion Gators have found their form with a strong run through the North region, capped by Saturday’s 88-75 win over Paint Branch in the region title game. They are loaded with big-game experience, led by All-Metro senior forwards Laquill Hardnett and Anthony Higgs. Senior guard Tyler Holley brings versatility and junior forward Anthony Walker broke out in a big way during the region playoffs. Gaithersburg, from Montgomery County, advanced with a 65-61 win over Bethesda-Chevy Chase for the West region title. It’s the Trojans’ fifth state semifinals appearance and first since 1998, when they won their only crown. Senior Julio Tamakloe and freshman Jao Ituka shared team-high scoring honors in Saturday’s win with 18 points each. The Gators have the edge in size and experience.

NO. 11 OLD MILL (21-4) vs. BLADENSBURG (14-12 )

Time: 9 p.m.

Outlook: Juniors Avion Robinson and Daevone Johnson took the lead roles in sending Old Mill to its fifth state semifinals appearance. The two combined to score 51 points in the Patriots’ 76-65 East region title win over Annapolis, with Robinson scoring 21 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and Johnson taking game-high honors with 27. Bladensburg, from Prince George’s County, pulled off an 83-81 upset win over Eleanor Roosevelt to claim the South championship. The Mustangs have a balanced offense that was on display in Saturday’s win over the Raiders. Junior swingman Tyshaun Walker was lights out with 26 points, making three of four 3-pointers and nine of 11 at the free-throw line. The Patriots also have to keep a close eye on senior forwards Daniel Oladapo and Joshua Williamson. Both rosters are new to state semifinals play with Old Mill last reaching the final four in 2010 and the Mustangs, who have won two titles, in for the first time since 1979.

FRIDAY

Class 1A

NO. 6 DUNBAR (24-3) vs. CLEAR SPRING (19-5)

Time: 3 p.m.

Outlook: The Poets rolled through the North region, comfortably beating Pikesville, 65-39, in Saturday’s title game, as they look to add to their record 15 state crowns. Senior Da’Shawn Phillip is the glue with sophomore Jamal West Jr. providing strong inside play. Malik McCormick and Zephaniah Esguerra are sharpshooters from the outside. Clear Spring, from Washington County, makes it second straight state semifinals appearance in search of the program’s first title. The Blazers have good size and balance. Senior forwards Taivon Davis and Connor Michael handle the inside work with Jaret Lazich, Michael Myers and Nick Faith steady contributors on offense. Davis and Lazich each scored 15 points in Saturday’s 54-47 win over Southern-Garrett for the West crown.

PATTERSON MILL (19-7) vs. FAIRMONT HEIGHTS (19-8)

Time: 5 p.m.

Outlook: The Huskies would like nothing better than to pick up where they left off in Saturday’s 55-39 East region win over Snow Hill. They put it all together when it counted most, outscoring the Eagles 24-2 in the fourth quarter to win easily. Up next are the defending state champions, who will be chasing the program’s ninth state crown after beating Friendly, 77-55, for the South title. Patterson Mill, making its second semifinals trip in three years, is led by the Clowney brothers, Rashawn and Rashawd, and Max Elliott. The Hornets, from Prince George’s County, got a balanced performance in Saturday’s win with Yearlando Reed scoring 17 points, Darren Lucas-White adding 15 and Kimani Benjamin chipping in 14.

Class 2A

NO. 13 LAKE CLIFTON (20-5) vs. OAKDALE (23-1 )

Time: 7 p.m.

Outlook: Seeking the program’s fifth state crown in their 10th state tournament, the Lakers are back doing what they do best: Playing scrappy on defense and smart on offense to grind out wins. Sophomore Michael Gray has enjoyed a fine postseason, scoring 18 points to provide the spark in a 51-43 win over New Town for the North crown. Much of the Lakers’ focus against Oakdale, from Frederick County, will be shutting down sharpshooter Collin Schlee. The Bears, making their fourth state semifinals appearance in search of the program’s first crown, are deep and lean in their halfcourt defense. In their 72-53 win over Williamsport that captured the West region title, the Bears got a 23-point performance from J.P. DeLorenzo.

NO. 14 RIVER HILL (21-4) vs. NORTH CAROLINE (18-6 )

Time: 9 p.m.

Outlook: The Hawks are 1-for-1 in state tournaments, winning a state crown in 2007 in their only appearance before this season. This year’s team closely resembles that one with cohesive defense, an offense that takes what a defense gives and a strong group of seniors. In capturing the South region crown with a 61-51 win over Thomas Stone, the Hawks clamped down on defense in the third quarter, going on a 13-0 run at the start to take charge. Jaden Martin, one of nine seniors, led the way with 18 points. Dylan Daniels and junior OJ Okojie are big factors down low with Jacob Krause and Luke Champion keys on the outside with Martin. North Caroline is making its sixth state semifinals appearance and first since 1989. The Bulldogs, who claimed a comfortable 82-51 win over Harford Tech for the East region championship, won their only state title in 1987.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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