Capsule previews of girls basketball state semifinal games

Capsule previews of girls basketball state semifinal games
Baltimore, MD -- 02/05/2016 -- Following a Western Doves three pointer, guard Makayla Pickens (right) takes an assist from a steal for a layup in front of Poly Engineers guard Khepera Stokes during a key rivalry basketball game at Western High School. The Doves held on to stave off the Engineers, 45-41, in a game that featured both head coaches being simultaneously ejected. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

All games at Towson University's SECU Arena



Class 4A

No. 4 WESTERN (23-1) vs. PARKDALE (18-7)

Time: 3 p.m.

Outlook: The Doves tie the state record for most tournament appearances with 15, and they've only been in the MPSSAA since 1993. Paint Branch, which also has 15, made it for the first time in 1979. Coach Tasha Townsend's Doves would like to add a third state title to their trophy case. They haven't won since 1995. They'll start with the team that dethroned two-time defending champion Eleanor Roosevelt in the region final. The Panthers haven't been to the state tournament since they won the second of their two titles in 1981. The Baltimore City champion Doves are back for the first time since 2010, and aim to keep the pace up-tempo led by F-G JJ Williams (14 points, nine rebounds per game) and G Jasmen Walton (14.8 ppg, 3 apg). Parkdale is led by guards Drew Calhoun and Briel Palmer, who average about 15 points each and 6-4 C-F Nyamal Pinyien (10.7 ppg).


No. 7 POLY (21-5) vs. NORTHERN-CALVERT (22-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Outlook: The Engineers return to the semifinals for the fifth straight year aiming for their first crown. They meet third-time semifinalist Northern, which hasn't been to the tournament since 1999. While the Engineers are young, with just two multi-year starters, the Patriots have four four-year starters. Northern averages 67.6 points per game. Poly scores 50. However, against their only common opponent, Severn, both won close games — the Engineers, 45-42, and the Patriots, 57-55. In her 14 seasons, coach Kendall Peace-Able's team has been built on defense and the Engineers run an up-tempo game led by G Khepera Stokes (14 ppg, 3 apg) and F Jewel Porter (8 ppg, 5 rpg). Northern has four players scoring in double figures, led by guards Natalie LaPlaca (14 ppg, 7.6 apg) and Kassidy Cross (13.2 ppg)

No. 15 GLENELG (21-4) vs. FREDERICK (21-4)

Time: 9 p.m.

Outlook: The Gladiators came from behind to win all three of their playoff games, including the regional final at Stephen Decatur, where Grace Butera banked in a 3-pointer with 48.7 seconds left and team defense made it hold up for a 45-44 victory. They are aiming for their third state championship, winning last in 2001. The Cadets won their only title 2011. Coach Chris Beil's Gladiators have been a balanced team this season led by their floor general G Jess Foster who also leads them in scoring (14 ppg). They average 55 points per game, but have upped that to 60.7 in the playoffs. The Cadets average 49.2, but improved to 63.3 in the playoffs. Like Glenelg, Frederick has three players averaging in double figures, led by freshman G Makayla Daniels (13 ppg).


Class 2A

No. 12 NEW TOWN (21-2) vs. LARGO (17-5)


Time: 3 p.m.

Outlook: The Titans return to the semifinals for the second time in three years. In 2014, they reached the state final where they fell to Southern of Garrett County, 52-47. This year, however, New Town is in Class 2A and draws two-time champ Largo, which won its last title in 2007. The Lions are riding a 14-game winning streak while coach Gena Young's Titans have won nine straight. Senior F-G Candis Taylor (18.3 ppg) and junior F-G Paris Thompson (9.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg) lead the Titans, who lost only to No. 8 MATHS and Milford Mill this winter. The Lions have three players averaging in double figures led by F Chance Graham (19 ppg, 18.5 rpg) and G Stephanie Guihon (11.9 ppg, 4.1 apg).

Class 1A


Time: 5 p.m.

Outlook: In their second straight trip to the state semifinals, the Foresters have the toughest draw in any classification. Defending champion Forestville has lost only to two of the top teams in USA Today's Super 25 national rankings — No. 1 St. Mary's, from Stockon, Calif., and No. 6 Riverdale Baptist. The Knights average 81 points and have scored 100 or more four times. Coach Jermaine Dunn's Foresters average 52 points. However they have a much better idea of what to expect this time after falling to Southern, of Garrett County, in last year's semifinal. The Baltimore City Division III champions are led by two juniors, G Tiffani Rice and F Mackelle Randolph. The Knights, whose top five players dish out a combined 23 assists per game, have four players averaging in double figures led by G Taleah Washington (17.5 ppg).