Bladensburg and Sherwood, each of which came up a few points shy of winning Maryland state basketball titles last year, will be looking for different results this time around while defending champion Wootton hopes to repeat as state semifinal action gets under way tonight at Cole Field House.
Sherwood (21-4) opposes defending champion Frederick (18-7) in a Class B semifinal at 5, Wootton (17-8) takes on Catonsville (20-3) in an A matchup at 7 and Bladensburg (20-3) battles Annapolis (19-2) in an AA game at 9.
In the Maryland state girls' semifinals at Catonsville Community College, Northeast (11-3) meets Smithsburg (16-2) at 3, Paint Branch (17-3) plays South Carroll (18-4) in a Class A match at 5, Bel Air (15-2) faces Northwestern (19-2) in a AA game at 7 and Sherwood (19-0) goes against Southern (19-2) in a B semifinal at 9.
The Virginia AAA girls' semifinals will be held today at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Northern regional champion Robinson (20-5) faces Central winner Maggie Walker of Richmond (19-0) in one semifinal at 2 and Northwestern titlist Gar-Field (13-10) plays Eastern regional winner Phoebus of Hampton (23-0) at 3:45.
Sherwood, a 64-62 loser to Frederick in the final a year ago, gained a slight measure of revenge with a 68-54 decision during the regular season. However, Sherwood Coach Mel Laughner is quick to point out that Frederick rebounder Mike Boyd (6-4 1/2) didn't play that night.
"He'll definitely make a difference inside, " said Laughner.
Frederick is led by Nike Boyd's brother, Donny, one of leading scorers in Maryland with a 23.0 average.
Sherwood relies on a balanced scoring attack and the leadership of 5-10 Tim Charles.
Experience will play a major role in Bladensburg's chances for the title. Senior 6-11 center Thurl Bailey (19 points and 14 rebounds per game) is surrounded by four extremely quick jump-shooting guards.
Annapolis, making its fourth straight appearance in the state semifinals, looks to Kevin Thompson and Jeff Brown for most of its scoring. The running Panthers were eliminated by Churchill, 85-78, last year.
Wootton has won 12 of its final 14 games after an early 5-6 record. Included in the streak were victories over Sherwood and AA semifinalist Blair.
Mount Vernon (24-3), the Virginia AAA Northern regional champion, takes on Central winner Petersburg (24-0) in a state semifinal Friday at 7. Maury of Norfolk (23-3) plays Patrick Henry of Roanoke (21-4) in the other semi at 8:45.
In the Maryland state boys' semifinals Friday, Class B Southern (18-5) meets Cambridge-South Dorchester (20-3) at 5, Surrattsville (11-10) faces Thomas Stone (17-2) at 7 in A and Blair (17-6) meets Patapsco (18-2) at 9 in AA.
In Maryland girls' semifinal action Friday, Friendly (16-4) meets Meade (16-5) in Class A at 7 and Towson (15-2) faces Whitman (15-3) in a AA game at 9.
The Catholic League girls tournament gets under way Friday at Good Counsel. Holy Cross (a winner of 51 straight, including 23 this year) meets St. Cecilia's at 4:30, Seton plays La Reine at 6, Holy Names goes against Regina at 7:30 and St. Anthony's faces St. Patrick's at 9.
In nontournament action, De Matha (25-2) gets its chance to regain the No. 1 ranking in the nation when it meets Overbrook of Philadelphia (29-1) at Captial Centre at 9 Friday.