High School

Maryland 4A state basketball semifinals preview and predictions

Maryland 4A state basketball semifinals preview and predictions

The Maryland 4A state semifinals tip off Thursday at the University of Maryland. Here’s a breakdown of the matchups.

(1) Richard Montgomery (21-4) vs. (5) Wise (20-5)

Time: 9 p.m.

Richard Montgomery:

Richard Montgomery enters this semifinal contest riding a 10-game win streak, which includes a 77-55 victory over Arundel in the quarters. Its up-tempo, high pressure style leads to turnovers and easy opportunities. This squad has a way of overwhelming its opponents.

RM is an experienced squad with quality senior leadership. The Rockets advanced to the state semis last year; they won’t be intimidated by the moment.

Wise:

Wise dropped four of its first 10 games this season but found a way to turn it around and has been rolling ever since.

The Pumas’ playoff push hit new heights when they dethroned defending 4A champ Eleanor Roosevelt before outlasting Annapolis, 72-62, to advance to the semis.

Bold Prediction:

Richard Montgomery is the top seed and earned it. The Rockets have been here before and to “complete the mission” has been their mantra all season long.

That said, I’m picking the Pumas.

Wise has fought its way through a tough schedule and is playing its best basketball at the right time. Beyond hitting their mark as a team, the Pumas have arguably the hottest hooper in the DMV in their stable. Trey Thomas scored 27 and 30, respectfully, in the Pumas’ last two outings, thus validating his selection as Prince George County’s 4A Player of the Year.

RELATED: Class 3A semis preview and predictions

(2) Springbrook (22-2) vs. (3) Parkville (22-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Springbrook:

The Blue Devils have been dominant all season. This high-scoring squad enters Thursday’s semifinal having won 12 games in a row -- 10 of which have come by double figures.

Earlier in its playoff run, Springbrook avenged an early season loss by soundly beating Blake, 66-48, before outclassing Bladensburg to a count of 75-62.

Parkville:

Parkville has a right to believe that this is its year, and if that is the case, Thursday’s semifinal serves as an opportunity to prove it.

The Knights get up and down the court. They are proficient on offense, but perhaps what is most impressive is that their toughness allows them to persevere even when they aren’t making shots.

They’ve performed extraordinarily well out of conference; their victory over a stout Churchill squad upped their non-league record to 10-1.

Bold Prediction:

The brand of basketball Parkville plays combined with ample intrinsic motivation makes it a threat to defeat any opponent on any given day. That day though will not be Thursday, nor will the opponent be Springbrook.

The Blue Devils are clicking on all cylinders and though Parkville will make them earn it, ultimately Springbrook will win and advance to the state championship game.

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These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

In today’s game, high-powered offenses are king. Long gone are the days of wishbone formations, triple-option quarterbacks and play-calling strategies centered around “three yards and a cloud of dust.”

In 2020, spread sets are the norm and offenses are designed to put up points in a hurry. For defenses to be successful at slowing them down, they need skilled and versatile defenders in the secondary who can stop the pass and help slow the run game. Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are home to some of the best in the country.

Here are my Top 10 defensive backs in the DMV.

Ryan “Bo” Barnes | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Offers: 35

Ryan Barnes is a ball-hawking DB with next level length and a knack for making big plays. At 6-foot-2, Barnes is a big corner who blankets his opposition. He uses his long arms and stride to aide in recovering, and once he gets his hands on the ball he is a threat to score.

Though slight of frame, Barnes is a physical, sure tackler who effectively sets the edge against the run.

Antoine Booth | DeMatha (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Michigan State

Antoine Booth often accepts the challenge of lining up against the opposition’s No. 1 receiver -- he does not back down. In fact, he raises his game to that of his competition. He plays the game with a moxie and bravado that will serve him well this season and moving forward.

Booth does a stellar job reading and reacting. He keeps his eyes in the backfield, plants his back foot and jumps routes, often leading to pass breakups and interceptions.

Jalen Clyatt | Sherwood (MD)

Safety: 6’4”, 200 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: East Carolina

Jalen Clyatt has tremendous size and length. As a long strider, he covers a lot of ground in little time.

Clyatt manages the middle of the field. His range allows him to cover from sideline-to-sideline, and his ball skills make him a threat to intercept passes that sail over the middle.

Cam Johnson | St. Frances (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 170 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 13

Cam Johnson has excellent technique. His hips are fluid, his backpedal is smooth and he changes direction effortlessly, which allows him to be successful in man coverage even when playing on an island.

At 6-feet tall, Johnson has nice length and a frame that he will grow into. The rising junior has legitimate “lockdown corner” potential.

Jalen “Buck” McCain | Flowers (MD)

Defensive Back: 6’0, 190

Class: 2021

Committed: Boston College

Jalen McCain is a versatile defensive back capable of making plays from all over the field. He can line up as a boundary-corner or in the slot versus spread offenses, as he displays proficiency in both zone and man coverage.

McCain is a skilled blitzer, has the speed and field awareness to defend in two-deep looks and thrives as a box safety, where his physicality and tackling abilities are on full display.

Will Simpkins III | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: University of Virginia

Simpkins has a Div.-I body type and he uses it to his advantage. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and excels at redirecting receivers, making it difficult for them to get into their routes.

His hand-fighting techniques are superb. He has loose hips and solid ball skills. Simpkins is capable of taking away an entire side of the field.

Jalen Stroman | Patriot (VA)

Safety: 6’1”, 195 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Virgina Tech

Jalen Stroman is developing into a special student athlete. He’s a big hitter who is most effective coming down hill and attacking. When defending the run, he’s equally adequate at filling the hole as he is setting the edge.

In pass coverage, Stroman displays an ability to undercut routes and break on the ball. He also displays the range to play deep centerfield.

Joshua Thompson | St. John’s (DC)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 190 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 8

Joshua Thompson thrives in press coverage. He has the physicality to manhandle receivers at the line, and the length to recover and make plays on the ball.

As a rising junior, his stock is on the rise. Thompson should develop into a 25-plus offer student athlete.

Dante Trader | McDonogh (MD)

Safety: 6’0”, 185 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Maryland

Dante Trader is a natural center-fielder who displays excellent range and ball skills. His footwork and technique allow him to cover ground efficiently. He’s a sound tackler who consistently finds himself around the ball.

What he lacks in size, he makes up for in instincts. Trader does an excellent job of diagnosing plays; seeing what’s in front of him and flowing accordingly.

Zakee Wheatley | Archbishop Spalding (MD)

Safety: 6’3”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Penn State

Zakee Wheatley is a big time student athlete who makes plays all over the field. He has the coverage skills to line up on the outside, as well as the size and physicality to run with tight ends down the seam.

Wheatley is a heavy hitter who provides support against the run and routinely uses his force to separate man from ball.

Former Dunbar and Maryland star Keith Booth sues Baltimore City Schools, per a report

Former Dunbar and Maryland star Keith Booth sues Baltimore City Schools, per a report

University of Maryland great, and former Dunbar basketball coach, Keith Booth has sued the Baltimore school system for defamation the Baltimore Sun reported Friday afternoon. The coach was fired in February for an "inappropriate interaction" between two Dunbar students who were under his supervision at the time.

Booth is suing the city school board, schools CEO Sonja Santelises, Dunbar principal Yetunde Reeves, and Jerome Jones, the director of labor relations and negotiations for the school system.

According to the lawsuit, Booth's attorney alleges that the letter released to the Dunbar community, regarding the incident at the time, implied Booth was at fault. 

“Coach Booth will forever live with the stain of Defendants’ false and defamatory letter and denial of his constitutional rights to clear his name," the lawsuit states.

Booth, a McDonald's All-American during his time at Dunbar, returned to coach the boy's basketball program in May of 2019.

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