No. 8 Western punches ticket to 4A state girls basketball Elite Eight; Pryor scores 23 (VIDEO HERE!)
by Demetrius Dillard
Special to VSN
Western High girls basketball won the Class 4A North Region I title Wednesday evening.
Nyceara Pryor is hardly satisfied.
“As a team, we performed great. But overall, we won a regional championship but it’s all about that state championship,” Pryor said.
Pryor and the No. 8 Doves have unfinished business and took another step with a cozy 66-35 victory over Catonsville in Baltimore City. Pryor finished a game-high 23 points and nine steals for Western, and Gabrielle Johnson added 16.
The Doves methodically pulled away from Catonsville, securing a second straight region championship. The Falls Road school will host either Paint Branch or Clarksburg from Montgomery County in a 4A Elite Eight match Friday.
Under a new format, eight region champions (two each from East, West, North and South) are reseeded based on their regular season winning percentage.
Western reached the 4A Final Four last season, losing to eventual state champ Prince George’s County’s Charles H. Flowers. The Doves last won the big prize in 1995.
Western is hoping to end the drought behind Pryor, one of the area’s most dynamic guards. Her unmatched speed and staggering defense was on full display Wednesday.
Pryor recorded four steals in the first quarter to spark a 15-3 scoring run as Western led 18-10. The Doves led 33-18 at halftime.
Western’s trap zone disrupted Catonsville’s offense, despite the Comets’ exceptional ball movement. Senior guard Mya Henson also came up big on the defensive end, finishing with seven boards, three assists and three steals for Western.
It all started with Pryor, who helped the Doves extended their lead to 50-26 entering the fourth.
“The best guard in the city, the best guard in the DMV hands down. She controls the whole tempo; defense, offense – she controls the whole team,” Western coach Kenneth Robinson said. “We feed off our defensive intensity. We’re small, so we feed off the pressure, pressure, pressure. And, we’re only going to go as far as Ny’Ceara carries us.”
Said Pryor: “I think it was very important for me to get going. I created a lot of energy on the court and off the court so (my teammates) feed off my energy. When I go, they go.”
Maddi McLean led the way with nine points and six rebounds for Catonsville (16-9), and Ashley Dickey chipped in with seven points and five rebounds.
Comets coach Mike Mohler said his team couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm.
“I thought we hurt ourselves. They cover a lot of ground because they’re so quick,” Catonsville coach Mike Mohler said.
The game plan was to play slow and controlled basketball, Mohler added, but due to a number of errant passes the Comets found themselves in a deficit they couldn’t recover from.
“We have a bunch of great kids and they worked hard all year. It’s a shame when we didn’t play our best today,” Mohler said, reflecting on Catonsville’s season. “We had a good year.”
The Doves have only one senior – City College transfer Henson – in the starting lineup. Western took No. 1 Poly to the final seconds before falling in the Baltimore City final last week at Morgan State University.
Robinson thinks the Doves are ready to take the next step.
“The states is the ultimate goal. We will get there, we’re young, but I’m excited for my young team,” said Robinson. “We finally grew up… everyday since Nov. 15 until now, and we’re still growing.”
CLASS 4A NORTH REGION I FINAL
NO. 8 WESTERN 66, CATONSVILLE 35
Catonsville – Maddi McLean 9, Ashley Dickey 7, Jen Lewis 6, Rianna Saunders 6, Destinynae Jackson 3, Amber McDevitt 2, Alexis Kahler 2. Totals 12 11-28 35.
Western – Ny’Ceara Pryor 23, Gabrielle Johnson 16, Sanaya Gray 5, Cami Urquhart 5, Amya Jenkins 4, Mya Henson 3, Zyare Hill 3, Jayla Mills 2, Eshe’ Knox 2, Summer Pope 2. Totals: 24 12-15 66.
Catonsville 10 8 8 9 – 35
Western 18 15 17 16 – 66