No. 8 Pikesville overpowers Western Tech for Baltimore County girls hoops crown; New Town overcomes slow start, drops No. 19 Franklin for first boys title since 2016 (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE!)
by Gary Adornato & Derek Toney
Considered huge favorites, Pikesville High girls and New Town boys both got out of the gates relatively slow at Tuesday’s Baltimore County basketball championships. Their respective talents eventually took over as the No. 4 Titans defeated 19th-ranked Franklin for the boys’ crown while 8th-ranked Pikesville pulled away from Western Tech in the girls final at Towson University’s SECU Arena.
Having lost in its two previous visits to SECU Arena, Pikesville put a huge emphasis on getting a win at Towson University’s beautiful facility. Not only was the County title at stake, but the Panthers wanted to prove it could win in the building prior to what the team hopes will be a return trip to SECU, in two weeks, for the Class 1A state semifinals.
And, the Panthers got what they wanted with a 53-30 rout of the Wolverines.
“We knew this game was just utterly important for us to get,” said Pikesville second-year coach Michael Dukes, who led the Panthers to last year’s County title game, losing to Catonsville. “We didn’t want to come into this building and go 0-3 and let it start to get into the kids psyche. We thought this game meant everything. I feel really good going into the states.”
Defense was the one constant all night and it shined brightest in the third quarter as the Panthers (20-3 overall) blanked Western Tech, while scoring 17 points of their own, to turn a 25-19 halftime lead into a 42-19 advantage.
Junior guard Frances Glover-Bey, who only scored two points in the contest, was an absolute menace to the Wolverines, especially in the third quarter. It was the type of effort the Panthers have come to count on from her.
“Frances Glover, I would have to say, has been a key,” said Dukes. “She worked her way into our starting lineup, just from the defensive pressure she began applying to the better point guards. So, we found something there and we really rode it. Offense can go up and down, but defense can certainly travel.”
The Panthers put on a defensive clinic in the third quarter, consistently stripping the Wolverines after they crossed the timeline, turning the steals into easy points on the offensive end. Sophomore Kristen Sterling scored all seven of her points in the third quarter and junior Charia Roberts, who scored a team-high 12 points, added six in the period.
“After halftime, our whole team motivated us to defend more because we have been working on defense in all of our practices,” said Roberts. “Defense is what wins games. After we got all of our butterflies out at halftime, we came back in the third quarter and the defense took over.”
Western Tech (13-6) only managed four field goal attempts in the quarter and went 0-for-4 from the free throw line in the period.
Tech opened the fourth quarter with five straight points, but it was hardly enough to challenge the Panthers hold on the contest. Pikesville responded with an 8-2 run and the lead went to 50-26.
Western Tech only led once in the game, at 1-0, but hung in the contest throughout the first half. After falling behind by eight late in the first quarter, Tech opened the second quarter with a 7-2 surge to pull within two, at 17-15. Pikesville outscored the Wolverines 8-4 over the balance of the first half to take a 25-19 lead into the halftime break.
“We played really bad on offense and Pikesville is a good enough team that you can’t do that,” said Western Tech coach Alan Lagon. “They took advantage, pretty much, of all our let downs.”
Teylah Saunders and Tyra Robinson each scored 10 points for Pikesville, and Taylor Sawyer added eight. Western Tech sophomore Sydney Stokes scored 15 of her team’s 30 points to lead all scorers. Destini Ward added eight for the Wolverines.
Saunders believes her squad is poised for more success at SECU in the near future.
“I think we have everything laid out for us,” Saunders said of her squad’s playoff hopes. “We came into the season knowing we wanted to achieve certain goals, so every practice we have been working very hard to prepare us for the moment and I think we are ready for it.”
Both Pikesville and Western Tech have first round byes in Section I of the Class 1A North Region and will host their playoff openers on March 5. If they should both win, they will meet again for a spot in the regional final.
After receiving the Baltimore County championship plaque, New Town coach Derek Wise was mobbed by his players. The transition for the Titans hit a high point Tuesday, claiming their first league championship since 2016.
Junior forward Andrew Mills finished with 16 points and Marta Robinson added 13 for New Town (19-1). Junior forward Ben Murphy paced Franklin (16-7) with a game-high 19 points.
After a sluggish start, the Owings Mills school dominated the final three quarters to win the program’s second title. The Titans won all but one of their Baltimore County regular season matches by double-digits.
Their latest effort took a little while to materialize against upstart Franklin, playing in its first county final.
“We came out flat and they hit us in the mouth and made us set a tone,” said Mills. “They made us want to play really hard.”
The Indians weren’t intimidated, building a 11-5 first quarter lead on New Town, which turned the ball over six times. The Titans picked up their intensity in the second quarter, going on a 26-8 run.
“We haven’t played in a week and a half and we’ve been beating up on each other in practice,” said Wise. “It wasn’t what I was expecting, but we were able to turn it around late in the second quarter.”
Wise said he wanted “to speed up” Franklin which was effective in half court. The Titans put together a 17-1 surge, capped with a Collins’ 3-pointer, for a 28-14 advantage.
New Town opened the second half with eight straight, advancing the lead to 39-19 after Kyree Johnson’s offensive board and basket. The Titans led by as many as 24 points in the final quarter.
Franklin coach Dave Iampieri said New Town’s length and athleticism wore his group down.
“We got off to a good start and got a stop to start the second half, but they got an offensive rebound and it just happened time and time again,” said Iampieri. “We knew they were relentless on the board and they killed us.”
Iampieri, in his fourth season after guiding Overlea for about a decade, is pleased with Franklin’s progression. The Indians beat out two-time Class 4A state champion Perry Hall and Chesapeake-Baltimore County to reach their first final.
“We got this far and we’re no longer a secret,” said Iampieri, whose team has the Class 3A North Region sectional playoffs next week. “I do think our guys will gain some confidence and realized to get to that next point, we’re going to have step it up a notch. I don’t know if we had five guys ready to step it up a notch today.”
With its depth, length and athleticism, New Town has been one of the area’s elite public teams this season under Wise, who succeeded Mike Daniel. Daniel, who won two state titles at New Town (four total) along with several MIAA A and Baltimore Catholic League titles during a long tenure at now-defunct Towson Catholic, retired at the end of last season.
Wise, who played for Daniel at Towson Catholic and served as an assistant under him at City College and New Town, has had an impact.
“We’re learning how to play together as one,” said Robinson, a 6-foot-3 junior point guard. “We had some key guys leave but we got some key guys back with us. We’ve had to work harder.”
The Titans will have their work cut out for them in the 2A North Region playoffs. New Town hosts either Eastern Tech or Owings Mills in the Section I semifinals Monday.
The Titans could cross paths with No. 6 Edmondson in the section final and top-ranked and Baltimore City champ Patterson in the region title match.
“I like the trajectory we’re on heading into the future. We got a few things we need to clean up,” said Wise. “I like where we’re headed.”
BALTIMORE COUNTY BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
at SECU Arena
NO. 8 PIKESVILLE 53, WESTERN TECH 30
WESTERN TECH – Sydney Stokes 15, Peace Ezeeka 2, Ihnyea Billy 3, Destini Ward 8, May Britton 2. TOTALS 9 11-16 30.
PIKESVILLE – Frances Glover-Bey 2, Tyra Robinson 10, Keante Lewis 4, Taylor Sawyer 8, Kristen Sterling 7, Charia Roberts 12, Teylah Saunders. TOTALS 21 11-16 53.
WESTERN TECH 8 11 0 11 — 30
PIKESVILLE 15 10 17 11 — 53
NO. 4 NEW TOWN 65, NO. 19 FRANKLIN 46
FRANKLIN – Murphy 19, Sims 13, Truitt 5, Conwill 2, Hall 2, Swantson 2, Verdejo 2, Howard 1. Totals 14 12-17 46.
NEW TOWN – Mills 16, Robinson 13, Johnson 12, Collins 9, Smith 7, Guerrero 6, Carter 2. Totals 25 7-15 65.
FRANKLIN 11 8 10 17 – 46
NEW TOWN 5 26 19 15 – 65