Previewing the boys basketball state semifinals at Comcast Center

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(All games at University of Maryland's Comcast Center)

Thursday

Class 3A

No. 4 Milford Mill (24-2) vs. Urbana (21-4)

Time: 3 p.m.

Outlook: After a one-year hiatus, the Millers return to the state tournament in a bid to capture the program's third championship in four years and sixth overall. First up is an Urbana team from Frederick County that brings athleticism and physical play. Milford Mill counters with superior quickness and basketball savvy, led by guards Justin Jenifer (13.5 ppg) and Bruce Watkins (11.3 ppg), and forward Allen Costley (14.3 ppg). The Millers have to make sure to box out for rebounds and take advantage of their quickness in transition. Following an intense, highly competitive 70-65 win over No. 8 City in Friday's North regional title game, the Millers go to Comcast Center battle tested and confident. The Hawks are led by forward Thomas Utt, who averages 16 points per game this season.

No. 15 Reservoir (20-6) vs. Potomac (21-3)

Time: 5 p.m.

Outlook: The Gators are making the program's first state tournament appearance and head to Comcast Center on a 10-game winning streak. Depth — they regularly use 11 players — and strong defense have been the keys to success, highlighted by a 59-51 win over then-No. 15 Annapolis to win the East region. Potomac, from Prince George's County, presents a difficult challenge with quick guards who also have size. Versatile senior Dion Wiley, a heavily recruited Division I prospect who averages 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists, is one of four Wolverines who average double figures. Junior guard Kyle Reilly (11.3 ppg) is the only Reservoir player to average in double figures, but the team has 10 others averaging four points or more. The coaches — Reservoir's Michael Coughlan and Potomac's Renard Johnson — once played on the same team as kids.

Class 4A

No. 10 Poly (20-6) vs. Magruder (23-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Outlook: The Baltimore City schedule provides ups and downs, and it prepares teams to be ready for any challenge. That's what the Engineers are banking on as they make their first state tournament appearance. A difficult first assignment awaits Poly as the Engineers face the defending champion Colonels, who return most of last year's team. Poly will lean on the talented one-two punch of junior guard John Crosby (14.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 7 apg) and senior forward Darrion Stokes-Graham (17.2 ppg, 11 rpg). The Engineers also need a collective defensive effort to stop George Washington-bound senior Nick Griffin (18.2 ppg), who is the Montgomery County school's all-time leading scorer.

Friday

Class 1A

No. 9 New Town (21-3) vs. Brunswick (16-9)

Time: 3 p.m.

Outlook: New Town first-year coach Mike Daniel, who won two state titles at City, preaches defense and has 500-plus career wins to back up his claim. How well his Titans defend will determine how far they go this weekend at Comcast Center, Daniel said. They come with title game experience, having lost to No. 1 Dunbar in last year's championship. Guards Justin Brown (15 ppg) and Danny Shand (12 ppg) lead the offense, which is often jumpstarted by the hassling defense. Guard Zach Hossler (16 ppg) leads the Railroaders, who have four others averaging six points or more. Brunswick, from Frederick County, won its only state title in 1977.

No. 1 Dunbar (24-2) vs. Washington (19-5)

Time: 5 p.m.

Outlook: A fourth straight title would give Dunbar a state-record 15 championships overall. But the only number the Poets are concerning themselves with this weekend is two — the number of games they need to win. A largely new cast, led by transfer guards Daxter Miles (15 ppg) and Kamau Stokes (14 ppg) have Dunbar in a familiar spot as the favorite. Senior forward GaVaughn Trower (23 ppg) and sophomore guard-forward Shakur Cottman (19 ppg) lead Washington, from Somerset County, which has won eight straight games and 14 of its last 15. The Jaguars are making their first state tournament appearance since winning their only title in 1975.

Class 2A

No. 5 Edmondson (20-5) vs. Oakdale (22-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Outlook: Edmondson finally broke through when it won the demanding North region after losing in the regional title game the past four years. More potential good news comes with the fact that all four teams that beat the Red Storm in those games went on to win state titles. The Red Storm are hungry, confident and on a mission to bring home the school's first state title. Guards Darius Walker (19 ppg), Isaiah Tripp (18 ppg) and Darius Hubbard (10 ppg) are all capable of taking over games. Patterson transfer Myrek Fowlkes brings leadership and championship experience after helping the Clippers to last year's Class 3A title. West region champ Oakdale, from Frederick County, which is in its third year as a varsity program, also relies on strong guards, led by junior Zach Thomas (21 ppg).

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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