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22nd Baltimore City Public Schools Basketball Academy set to open Thursday at Morgan State

Some of the state’s best boys and girls high school basketball teams will be showcasing their skills at the 22nd Baltimore City Public Schools Basketball Academy, which starts Thursday and runs through Saturday at Morgan State.

On the boys side, a 14-game schedule will feature six ranked teams and six newcomers to the event.

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In the girls competition, six teams return from last year — No. 6 Western, No. 13 Poly, City, New Town and Mount Carmel. Franklin will play in the Basketball Academy for the first time.

Battle of unbeaten boys teams highlights opening night: One of the highly anticipated matchups comes Thursday night when No. 5 Dunbar (7-0) takes on No. 6 Milford Mill (5-0) at 6:45 p.m.

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Both teams bring versatile, balanced offenses and strong defenses.

For the Poets, guard-small forward Dashawn Phillip and forward Jamal West Jr. lead the way with a formidable backcourt in Malik McCormick and Zephaniah Esguerra bringing valuable experience and clutch outside shooting.

The Millers are also deep in the backcourt with guards Ugo Obasi, Jordan Goodwin and Jeremiah Simmons doing much of the damage on offense.

“They have some size on the front line and also have good guard play with guys that can score, guys that can defend, guys that have strength and quickness, so their style of play is similar to ours and it should be a good game,” Dunbar coach Cyrus Jones Sr. said.

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Event new for most, but not all at Mount Carmel: The Mount Carmel boys team will be making its first appearance at the Academy, but the experience will be nothing new for two figures in the program.

Coach Hakim Hibbert was a standout forward at City who participated at the Academy in the early 2000s and senior guard Rasheed Brown returns to Morgan State at 8 p.m. on Friday to take on a special opponent: his former team Lake Clifton.

“It’s a great opportunity for not just our program, but our school as well,” Hibbert said. “I participated as a player, so it’s always good to bring the kids back to environments that I participated in when I was growing up. As a player, I quickly learned that it’s bigger than me because it’s still going on and I’ve graduated awhile ago. So I told the guys to just remember it’s always bigger than us and about the next person.”

More than just hoops: Each team spends one day on the Morgan State campus, taking SAT prep classes and/or life lesson seminars. Western coach Tasha Townsend said she likes having her players on a college campus for the educational aspect of the event, as well as for the chance to play on a big college basketball court.

“These are the games we look to compete in on the big floor,” Townsend said. “That’s why I like coming, just giving them that experience playing on that college floor. It opens everything up. It lets me see who’s conditioned, who’s really not conditioned and hopefully most of the time we get good, competitive games.”

The Doves will play Mount Carmel in the only girls game scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. and then meet Franklin on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in the final girls game.

Townsend and Franklin coach Denikwa James are both Morgan State graduates. Townsend didn’t play basketball there while James did. James said she’s looking forward to being back in a game at Hill Field House for the first time since she graduated in 1994.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for the girls to see something new,” she said of the competition, which also includes Thursday’s game against Poly at 4:15 p.m.

“I see a lot of talent there. I go up there myself to check out the talent and I think we need the chance to see something new, as well as me coming back to coach on my alma mater floor. I played volleyball and basketball there at Morgan and I’m excited to coach my team on the same floor at the same school where I played.”

Basketball Academy

The 22nd annual BCPS Basketball Academy, featuring many of the area's top boys and girls basketball teams, will take place Thursday through Saturday at Morgan State. Tickets are $10 for each day with children under 5 admitted free. For more information, go to bballacademy.com.

Here's a look at the schedule:

THURSDAY

Girls

City vs. New Town, 3 p.m.

No. 13 Poly vs. Franklin, 4:15 p.m.

Boys

Hammond vs. No. 9 Woodlawn, 5:30 p.m.

No. 5 Dunbar vs. No. 6 Milford Mill, 6:45 p.m.

No. 12 Patterson vs. St. Maria Goretti, 8 p.m.

FRIDAY

Girls

Mount Carmel vs. Western, 3 p.m.

Boys

New Town vs. Hammond, 4:15 p.m.

Edmondson vs. Oxon Hill, 5:30 p.m.

No. 9 Woodlawn vs. Old Mill, 6:45 p.m.

No. 8 Lake Clifton vs. Mount Carmel, 8 p.m.

No. 7 Perry Hall vs. Riverdale Baptist, 9:15 p.m

SATURDAY

Girls

New Town vs. No. 13 Poly, 10 a.m.

Mount Carmel vs. City, 11:15 a.m.

Franklin vs. No. 6 Western, 12:30 p.m.

Boys

Chapelgate vs. New Town, 1:45 p.m

No. 6 Milford Mill vs. Edmondson, 3 p.m.

No. 5 Dunbar vs. Old Mill, 4:15 p.m.

No. 8 Lake Clifton vs. Oxon Hill, 5:30 p.m.

No. 12 Patterson vs. Riverdale Baptist, 6:45 p..m.

No. 7 Perry Hall vs. McDonogh, 8 p.m.

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