Guard Daquan Cook leads No. 6 Digital Harbor against Gwynn Park… (Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore…)
Boys basketball state semifinals
(All games at Comcast Center, University of Maryland)
No. 3 Milford Mill (24-1) vs. Friendly (23-3)
Time: 3 p.m.
Outlook: The bar has been raised at Milford Mill, the defending state champ, and the Millers have responded with a banner season to this point, capturing Baltimore County and North regional titles. The starting point is one of the area's most consistent one-two senior punches in G Isaiah McCray and F Tevin Hanner, who both average 10.5 points and do many other things to bring the team wins. Friendly, from Prince George's County, comes out of the South region having won its last 21 games behind a starting five of all seniors. The Patriots, who have won three state titles and were the state runners-up in 2009, are led by do-it-all PG Sherrod Baltimore (17 ppg, 8 apg, 3 rpg). Milford Mill coach Albert Holley expects a fast pace with strong guard play essential in order to advance.
Centennial (19-6) vs. South Hagerstown (21-4)
Time: 5 p.m.
Outlook: With their 54-51 win over Howard County rival Atholton in the East regional title game, the Eagles earned the program's first trip to the state tournament. Senior G/F Aaron Adams (17 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 apg) is the team's catalyst with a quick and feisty supporting cast. South Hagerstown, which won its only state title in 1974, also is light in recent state playoff experience — its last appearance was in 2004. The Rebels have a deep and balanced team with three players averaging double figures, led by senior F Andre Pierre's 15.5 points per game. They also have more size than Centennial — most notably 6-foot-6 senior C Darico Provitt — so the Eagles hope to neutralize the advantage with their speed and quickness.
No. 1 Patterson (24-1) vs. Eleanor Roosevelt (17-8)
When: 7 p.m.
Outlook: With the Clippers averaging 84 points per game this season and Eleanor Roosevelt limiting its opponents to 46, something has to give. Which begs the question: Can the Raiders, from Prince George's County, keep up with Patterson's super-sophomore Aquille Carr? It's proved to be easier said than done. Carr is averaging 32 points and has plenty of help this season, with senior guard Rickey Meekins (16.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and sophomore forward Myrek Lee-Fowlkes (14.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg) also capable scorers. With five regulars 6-3 or taller — led by 6-5 senior F Prince Okoroh (14 ppg, 10 rpg) — the Raiders will have to slow the pace to have a chance at advancing. Patterson is making its first state tournament appearance, while Eleanor Roosevelt, which won its only state title in 2002, makes its sixth.
No. 4 Dunbar (22-3) vs. No. 14 Owings Mills (23-3)
When: 3 p.m.
Outlook: In a rematch of last year's title game — a 64-53 Dunbar win — the Poets were able to pull away in the fourth quarter to produce the program's 12th state championship. Turnovers proved costly for the Eagles in the pivotal stretch, and coach Richard Epps said his team will have to eliminate them to have a chance to advance. Both teams have balanced lineups with a number of capable scorers. For the Poets, 6-5 senior G/F Devante Wallace (17.5 ppg), junior G Evan Singletary (12.3 ppg, 3.5 apg) and senior G Iakeem Alston (12 ppg) are the catalysts. The Eagles have four players averaging double figures, led by junior guard tandem of Tyson Smith (15.2 ppg) and Carjahn Jenkins (13 ppg). The team's inside presence comes from 6-5 junior F Kyle Thomas, who averages 12.1 points and nine rebounds.
No. 6 Digital Harbor (14-7) vs. Gwynn Park (17-8)
When: 7 p.m.
Outlook: Loaded with transfers, the Rams needed the entire season to find team chemistry, but it arrived at just the right time. Digital Harbor stunned Baltimore City rival Edmondson, 80-55, to capture the demanding North region. Guards Daquan Cook and Kevin Smith can take care of the ball, score and set up teammates. At 6-5, junior F Antonio Manns (16 ppg, 10 rpg) provides a versatile inside-outside game. Most important, the Rams are playing relaxed and confident basketball. Gwynn Park, which fell to City in last year's title game, is rich in basketball tradition with 10 state titles on its resume. The Yellow Jackets, from Prince George's County, have a strong one-two punch in senior G Brandon Ford (18 ppg, 3 apg) and senior F Tion Barnes (15.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg) with senior G Daniel Henry also averaging 10 points.
No. 12 South Carroll (24-1) vs. Easton (23-3)
When: 9 p.m.
Outlook: Standout G Ryan McTavish was an emerging sophomore when he helped lead the Cavaliers to the state tournament in 2009. Now a senior and the program's all-time leading scorer, McTavish (20.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and South Carroll hope that experience can help lead to the program's first state crown. First in their way is Easton, which reached the state semifinals last season. The Warriors, from Talbot County and led by junior G Jah'Sheme Ringgold (19.6 ppg, 5 rpg, 5 apg), are an athletic team averaging 79 points per game. South Carroll junior G Dan Mullen (8.2 ppg, 6.8 apg) adds heads-up play and leadership, while Ryan's younger brother, 6-5 sophomore F Gavin McTavish (12 ppg, 6.6 rpg), provides an effective inside option. South Carroll coach Doug Goff said the key to getting past Easton will come at the defensive end, where the Cavaliers will have to contest shots and box out to keep the Warriors from getting second-chance points.