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Previewing Baltimore-area teams in the MPSSAA boys basketball state semifinals

All games at Maryland’s Xfinity Center in College Park

Polytechnic's Justin Lewis slams in two points against Lake Clifton in the fourth quarter. Polytechnic defeated Lake Clifton by score of 61 to 44 to win boys basketball championship game at Morgan State on Feb. 25, 2020. Photo by: Kenneth K. Lam
Polytechnic's Justin Lewis slams in two points against Lake Clifton in the fourth quarter. Polytechnic defeated Lake Clifton by score of 61 to 44 to win boys basketball championship game at Morgan State on Feb. 25, 2020. Photo by: Kenneth K. Lam (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Thursday

CLASS 3A

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NO. 2 POLY (24-2) vs. NO. 14 NORTHEAST (22-4)

Time: 3 p.m.

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Outlook: Last season, the Engineers became the first team to ever win three consecutive Class 3A championships and the majority of the talent returns in a bid for four straight. All-Metro senior forwards Justin Lewis (19.3 ppg., 13.4 rpg.) and Brandon Murray (21.4 ppg.) are the go-to players and fellow All Met senior Rahim Ali has a chance to become the first point guard to start on four state championship teams. Northeast comes in on a 10-game win streak led by senior guard Jaylin Albury, who averages 17 points and hit for 33 in a 68-60 win over Wilde Lake in Saturday’s quarterfinal. Forward Darrell Sheppard (14.2 ppg., 9.2 rpg.) is the team’s inside threat. This is the second trip to the state semifinals for the Eagles, who last appeared in 1983.

ATHOLTON (19-7) vs. ST. CHARLES (27-1)

Time: 5 p.m.

Outlook: The Raiders won three straight playoff games on the road to reach the semifinals, knocking off C. Milton Wright, 68-62, in Saturday’s quarterfinal. Guard Jordan Oates (17.7 ppg., 14.2 rpg.) has dominated in his senior season with 22 double doubles. St. Charles, from Charles County, has won 22 straight games and brings a balanced attack to state play. Forward Max Brooks (14.3 ppg.) leads four Spartans who average in double figures. Atholton is making its fifth tournament appearance, the last coming in 2009, in a bid to bring home the program’s first crown. This is the first time St. Charles has made the state final four.

CLASS 4A

NO. 8 PARKVILLE (22-3) vs SPRNGBROOK (23-2)

Time: 5 p.m.

Outlook: The Knights come to Xfinity Center on the ultimate high, getting a tying buzzer-beating 3-point heave from star guard John Godinez in Saturday’s quarterfinal against Churchill before closing a 74-64 double overtime win. Godinez (19 ppg.) and forward Jordan Strickland (14 ppg., 10.5 rpg.) are the team’s one-two punch as the Knights aim for the program’s first state crown in its seventh trip. Springbrook, making a state-record 20th appearance, looks to add to its five state titles. The Blue Devils from Montgomery County boast their own one-two punch n Marcus Davis (19 ppg.) and Daouda Dembele (15.3 ppg., 14.5 rpg.).

Lake Clifton #20 Kelvin Spruill celebrates with teammates after the win. Lake Clifton played Edmonton boys basketball at home Friday, January 31, 2020.
Lake Clifton #20 Kelvin Spruill celebrates with teammates after the win. Lake Clifton played Edmonton boys basketball at home Friday, January 31, 2020. (Ulysses Muoz / Baltimore Sun)

Friday

CLASS 1A

NO. 5 LAKE CLIFTON (21-5) vs. FAIRMONT HEIGHTS (20-7)

Time: 3 p.m.

Outlook: With last year’s 1A crown, the Lakers became the first program to win a title in all four classifications. They’re looking for a third straight and seventh overall with two more wins at Xfinity. Senior guards Michael Gray (18 ppg., 6 rpg., 6 apg.) and Zaccheus Blackwell (15 ppg., 4 rpg. 4 apg.) take turns taking over a game, while Jalen Morris and Kelvin Spruill provide the work inside. Fairmont Heights, led by Keyshawn Johnson (25 ppg.) and Delonte Raynor (12 ppg., 13 rpg.) is battle-tested following a 90-88 win over Havre de Grace in Saturday’s quarterfinal round. The Hornets from Prince George’s County have won eight state titles with the last coming in 2017.

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NO. 7 EDMONDSON (21-4) vs. SOUTHERN-GARRETT (22-3)

Time: 5 p.m.

Outlook: Edmondson seeks the program’s third state title — having won back-to-back crowns in 2013 and 2014. The Red Storm advanced to the state semifinals with a 47-27 quarterfinal win at Crisfield in a game that was suspended following an altercation midway through the third quarter. Tra’Shawn Lewis (18 ppg., 8 rpg.) and Eontae Nelson (14 ppg) are the catalysts with Daniel Frink adding strong team play. The Rams, making their eight tournament appearance, bring championship-game experience having lost to Lake Clifton in last year’s final. Forward Isaac Upole (18.7 ppg., 6.1 rpg.) is their go-to player with two others averaging double figures.

CLASS 2A

NO. 4 NEW TOWN (24-2) vs. OAKDALE (20-6)

Time: 9 p.m.

Outlook: The Titans dominated the Baltimore County league and the trend continued in the playoffs as they enjoyed a 28-point winning margin against four opponents. Senior point guard Martaz Robinson (17 ppg., 8 rpg., 4 apg.) brings do-everything skills and thrives in the big moments. Forward Andrew Mills (14 ppg., 6 rpg.) is another key piece with solid team defense the team’s biggest strength. The Bears from Frederick County have made the state tournament in five of the past six years with their only title-game appearance coming in 2014. Senior guard Tommy Kelly (14 ppg.) is the focal point.

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