Maryland 4A boys’ basketball playoff preview: region by region breakdown


Wise’s Micah Till (left) and Springbrook’s Jermaine Ukaegbu (right) look to lead their teams — both No. 1 seeds — on deep runs in the Maryland 4A boys’ basketball tournament. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Maryland 4A vital stats

• 50 teams

• State semifinals March 13, 7 and 9 p.m., at Comcast Center

• State final March 15, 8 p.m., Comcast Center

• Defending champion: Eleanor Roosevelt (played in 2 straight state title games)

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from the week of basketball in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)
4A North

No. 1 seeds: Dulaney, Springbrook

Contenders: Dulaney (18-4), Springbrook (20-2), Perry Hall (15-7)

Upset potential: Blake (12-8), Paint Branch (8-13), Sherwood (11-10)

Potential games to watch:

- Paint Branch/Sherwood at Springbrook — region quarterfinal, Mar. 3

- Blake at Springbrook — region semifinal, Mar. 5

- Perry Hall at Dulaney — region semifinal, Mar. 5

Breakdown:

The 4A North features predominantly Baltimore-area and Montgomery County schools, and should be perennial power Springbrook’s to win, as the Blue Devils boast the region’s most impressive resume heading into the tournament. Of the D.C. area counties, the Blue Devils play the tightest defense of any Maryland public school team, allowing 46 points per game, but pitfalls abound in the 4A North in the form of Montgomery County foes Blake, Paint Branch and Sherwood. Blake, which pushed the Blue Devils earlier this season in a five-point loss, is rounding into form after getting one of Montgomery’s most prolific scoring threats, Demonte Ojinnaka (18 points per game), back from injury. Paint Branch features a similarly explosive scorer in Reuban Edwards, from whom one big game — like his 44-point outburst earlier this year — could doom an opponent’s season. Sherwood has pushed several top teams to the brink this year, and in a one-and-done format may have enough to truncate some state playoff dreams.

4A South

No. 1 seeds: DuVal, Wise

Contenders: Wise (18-2), C.H. Flowers (16-5), Eleanor Roosevelt (16-6)

Upset potential: Bowie (14-8), DuVal (13-9), Parkdale (8-13)

Potential games to watch:

— Eleanor Roosevelt at Wise — region quarterfinal, Mar. 3

— Parkdale at DuVal — region semifinal, Mar. 5

— C.H. Flowers at Wise/Roosevelt — region semifinal, Mar. 5.

Breakdown:

It’s tough to put a No. 1 seed like DuVal in the “upset potential category,” but in the all-Prince George’s County 4A South region — which features the defending state champions (Roosevelt), the favorite (Wise) and a legitimate contender (Flowers) in the same section — that’s exactly where the Tigers fall. Wise didn’t lose a conference game all season and routed the defending state champion Raiders in their only meeting. But a new-look Roosevelt team has shooters galore, a playoff-savvy coach in Brendan O’Connell, last year’s All Met Coach of the Year, and a bonafide star in Andre Fox, the leading scorer in Prince George’s County 4A (21.8 ppg). Flowers can defend inside and out with likely Division I recruit Clint Robinson in the middle and a handful of tenacious guards around him. As they beat up on one another, those three favorites will have to avoid falling victim to several teams with knockout potential, including a young DuVal team that charged back into top seed contention late in the season, weekly pest Parkdale, which gave top teams all they could handle this year, and Bowie, a sharp-shooting team with the get-hot potential to make a run.

4A West

No. 1 Seeds: Blair, Gathersburg

Contenders: Blair (18-3), Gaithersburg (19-2), Clarksburg (17-4)

Upset potential: Magruder (14-7), Whitman (16-5)

Potential games to watch:

— Whitman vs. Blair — region semifinal, Mar. 5

— Magruder vs. Gathersburg — region quarterfinal, Mar. 3

— Clarksburg vs. Gaithersburg — region semifinal, Mar. 5

Breakdown:

The 4A West is made up entirely of Montgomery County teams, meaning these schools and coaches know each other well, and all have something to prove. For those reasons — and the fact that Montgomery has been largely unpredictable all season — this region is wide open. Blair’s only losses came in a surprising 20-point debacle against Churchill and to No. 16 Springbrook, while Gaithersburg showed similar susceptibility to upsets with losses to Damascus and Magruder. Clarksburg struggled to hold down Gaithersburg, but did knock off Springbrook and is led by a corps of un-intimidatable and ultra-athletic guards in Josh Hardy and Xavier Sewell. Magruder was the 4A state runner-up in 2013, and has developed into a strong team again this season despite the departure of its top six scorers. Churchill’s three-point shooting prowess could propel the Bulldogs through their section, but Whitman has been solid all season, and the Vikings’ balanced scoring attack may just push them to the region final.

4A East

No. 1 Seeds: Severna Park, North Point

Contenders: Severna Park (21-2), North Point (15-5), Great Mills (16-5)

Upset potential: Meade (16-6), Annapolis (14-8)

Potential games to watch:

— Meade at Severna Park — region semifinal, Mar. 5

— Annapolis at North Point — region quarterfinal, Mar. 3

— Great Mills at North Point — region semifinal, Mar. 5

Breakdown:

The 4A East features perennial contender North Point, which should have no trouble carving through the lower half of the bracket to reach the semifinal. The only area foe that troubled the Eagles was Westlake, to whom they lost twice, but fortunately for North Point Westlake isn’t a 4A team. Great Mills may have enough to knock off the Eagles, but otherwise last year’s state semifinalists look to be on a collision course with Anne Arundel County champion Severna Park, which lost back-to-back games in January to county foes but didn’t err again. Many of the Falcons’ county wins came in close games, however, making potential region semifinal showdowns with Meade or Chesapeake potential stumbling blocks.

Big 4A Picture

Given that Montgomery County teams rarely play Prince George’s County foes, and Anne Arundel County teams don’t often venture west to face Montgomery or Prince George’s contenders, it’s not easy to predict where teams fall given the absence of a clear-cut favorite in 4A this season. Severna Park, a No. 1 seed in the East, beat Dulaney, a No. 1 seed in the North, by 10 this season, and Anne Arundel County isn’t generally considered to have the depth of basketball talent that Prince George’s teams in the South region or some of the Montgomery County squads may boast. So whichever team survives the 4A South blood bath very well could emerge as the favorite for the 4A title.

That said, if Springbrook’s guards get hot, the Blue Devils could be dangerous in a one-and-done format, particularly if a familiar Montgomery County team emerges from the other side of the bracket. Then again, other than two days in January, Severna Park has shown remarkable consistency, and North Point honed its big-game talents in games against No. 1 Bullis and No. 12 Maret this year.

Summed up: The 4A bracket will provide plenty of can’t-miss matchups over the next two weeks.

Brackets: Follow your school through the postseason

More: Maryland 3A region-by-region breakdown | 2A | 1A

Chelsea Janes covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.

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