Previewing area teams in the MPSSAA girls basketball state semifinals
By Jeff Seidel
For The Baltimore Sun|
Mar 13, 2019 at 7:00 AM
All games at Towson University’s SECU Arena
NO. 7 WESTERN (22-3) vs. C. H. FLOWERS (23-2)
Time: 3 p.m.
Outlook: Western is a young team that is trying for its first state title since 1995, although the Doves fell in the state finals three years ago. The guard-heavy team is led by sophomore Vashae Rideout (13.8 points per game), freshman Nycera Pryor (12.9 ppg) and sophomore Sanaya Gray (10.5 ppg) – all guards. The Doves made easy work of the Class 4A North Region, crushing Dulaney, Howard and Paint Branch. Western suffered a 55-54 loss to No. 4 Poly in the Baltimore City title game but has bounced back well. Flowers is led by junior guard Kaniyah Harris and senior guard Jasmine Hilton. Western will have to stop them as Harris averages in double figures (17.4 ppg, 10 rebounds per game) while Hilton (17.6 ppg) is the team’s top scorer.
BETHESDA-CHEVY CHASE (18-8) vs. NO. 6 OLD MILL (21-4)
Time: 5 p.m.
Outlook: Senior Sydney Faulcon leads the way for Old Mill. The 6-foot-1 center is averaging a double double of 17.2 points and 13.1 rebounds per game, and she played a big role in the Patriots’ 57-54 victory over South River in overtime in the Class 4A East Region final. Faulcon finished with 29 points and 17 rebounds while junior teammate Deja Atkinson ended with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and that helped them push into the state final four for the first time in four years. B-CC stumbled late in the season but recovered to make the state final four for the second year in a row, the only two times the Barons have ever done it. Sophomore guard Caroline Orza topped B-CC in points (14.6) and rebounds (7.2) this season.
Outlook: The Baltimore City champion Engineers played a tough schedule all season and have won two straight region titles and seven in the past eight years. Still, they’re looking for state title No. 1. Poly overwhelmed Chopticon in the South Region final with its speed and quickness on defense, and that appears to be where the Engineers make their money. Senior guard Janya Lilly, junior forward Dasia Townes and others pace a balanced Poly offense. Aberdeen has fared well under first-year coach Jimmia McCluskey and rolled over Towson, 42-31, in the North Region final last weekend. Senior guard Jae DeVeaux led the Eagles with 13 points in that game and was the leading scorer this season. This was Aberdeen’s first region crown in six years. The Eagles averaged 60 points per game this season.
FREDERICK (23-3) vs. NO. 5 LONG REACH (18-4)
Time: 9 p.m.
Outlook: Long Reach dropped two of its first three games but quickly got into gear. Senior guard Lyric Swann led the Lightning with an average of 21.2 points per game as Long Reach captured a second straight Howard County and region title. A 12-game county winning streak helped turn everything around. This is the second straight year that the Lightning have made the state final four. They fell in the championship game last season. Last year was the first time Long Reach advanced to the final four. Frederick plays tough defense and has allowed an average of only 37.2 points per game this season. But the Cadets also can score, and senior guard Makayla Daniels powers the offense, leading the team with an average of 21.2 points. The 5-foot-7 guard is headed for Arkansas next fall.
NO. 11 HEREFORD (22-1) VS. NO. 12 RIVER HILL (17-7)
Time: 3 p.m.
Outlook: Hereford comes in on an 11-game winning streak and brings a balanced attack.The offense is led by senior center Isabella Peterson (12.0 ppg), junior guard Reese Harden (11.6 ppg) and senior forward Brynne Deluzio (9.0 ppg). For the Bulls, this is their first trip to the state final four in 20 years. The school is still looking for its first state championship. River Hill last made it to the final four six years ago, and the Hawks emphasize defense first and also have some offensive balance. Junior forward Saniha Jackson is averaging a double double of 12.5 points and 10.2 rebounds. Freshman guard Aniyah Smith is second in scoring (11.8 ppg). The Hawks will be starting just one senior as this young group seemed to find its way in the latter part of the season, getting hot at the right time.
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Outlook: This is the second straight year in which Pikesville has made it to the final four, the only two times it has happened in school history. Coach Michael Dukes has guided the Panthers to a 45-7 record in the past two years since taking over, and their quickness and speed, along with tough defense and unselfish offense, helped the team win the Baltimore County and Class 1A North Region titles. Junior guard Tyra Robinson (12.8 ppg) and sophomore forward Kristin Sterling (12.0 ppg) pace the offense. Pikesville has several weapons on offense and is very good at turning a game into a track meet quickly. Largo is trying for its second state title in the past four years, having won Class 2A in 2016. Senior forward Billie Johnson (12.3 ppg) led the team in scoring as the Lions won their fourth straight region title.
NO. 14 COPPIN ACADEMY (20-6) vs. SMITHSBURG (19-7)
Outlook: Coppin has made the state semifinals for a second straight year. The Eagles fell in that round last year but have played well against a tough schedule for most of this season. They have a strong offense with four players averaging in double figures, including two with a double double. Sophomore forwards Nyshae Weaver (24 ppg, 14 rpg) and Arries Ealy (12 ppg, 11 rpg) each have the double-doubles. This is Smithsburg’s first time in the state final four since 2010. The Leopards come into the semifinals with an eight-game winning streak. They struggled at the start of the season, going 5-5 before everything came together in recent weeks. Junior forward Ashley Davis is the team’s top scorer, averaging 11.9 points per game.