No. 7 Panthers cruise past Smithsburg for 1st girls basketball state championship; Lewis and Glover-Bey combine for 32


by Demetrius Dillard

Special to VSN

In losses in the Baltimore County final and Class 1A state Final Four last year at SECU Arena, Pikesville High girls’ basketball team was overwhelmed by the big stage. It was much different for the Panthers in their return appearance.

The No. 7 Panthers completed an impressive postseason run with a 61-31 victory over Washington County’s Smithsburg in the 1A state title match at Towson University. Frances Glover-Bey had a game-high 18 points along with nine rebounds for Pikesville (23-4 overall), and Keante Lewis finished with 14 points, six rebounds and two assists.

The Panthers turned up the tempo in the second half, securing their first state championship. Last year, Pikesville lost to Southern from Garrett County in the state semifinals.

Glover-Bey, a 5-foot-6 junior, said her team’s obedience to second-year coach Michael Dukes’ game plan, particularly in the second half, was imperative in historic victory Saturday.

“I feel like I came out and I just knew that we needed to pick it up and I felt like I tried my best to keep that energy,” said Glover-Bey, who scored 10 of her 18 in the second half.

Using a full-court man-to-man defense, Pikesville smothered Smithsburg, 43-17, in the second half. Leah Lindsay was the Leopards’ leading scorer Saturday with just nine points.

“We just emphasized staying in their face all night long,” Dukes said. “This full-court man was our bread and butter all season long, so they [Smithsburg] were going to have to show us that it would be a problem for us to defend them that way.”

The Panthers handled the ball well Saturday, committing just five turnovers while turning 19 Smithsburg miscues into 27 points. Teylah Saunders and Charia Roberts combined for 11 points and 21 rebounds for Pikesville.

After wearing down Coppin Academy in the semifinals Friday, Smithsburg (20-8) ran into a different animal in Pikesville Saturday. The Panthers were able to puncture Smithsburg’s zone in the second half.

“They’re physical, maybe they were a step quicker. First half, I thought we executed well. The zone worked,” said Leopards coach Charles Burnett. “Like I said, they came out with a different game plan the second half, and their lead extended so it kind of got away from us, but I don’t know, they’re just a well-balanced team and we didn’t have an answer for them today.”

A middling program for many years, Pikesville experienced a cosmic-like turnaround last season under Dukes, reaching the county final (lost to Catonsville) and 1A state Final Four.

The experience emboldened the Panthers, who return to SECU Arena last month and claimed their first county championship. Friday, they tore apart perennial Prince George’s County power Largo in the state semfinals.

Saturday, Pikesville became champions.

“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” said Saunders, who will play for Elon University next season. “Coach Dukes, he came last season, my junior season. He took all of us in and made sure that we were good and then we got off to a great start, [won] 20-plus games. And this season, we set out goals specifically: win 20-plus games this season, get a county championship and get a state championship, and the fact that we accomplished all three just feels really good.”

CLASS 1A STATE GIRLS BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

AT TOWSON UNIVERSITY

No. 7 Pikesville 61, Smithsburg 31

Pikesville – Glover-Bey 19, Frazier 5, Lewis 14, Robinson 6, Sterling 7, Roberts 5, Saunders 6. Totals 22 12-16 61.

Smithsburg – Barnes 5, Grove 4, Davis 7, Lindsay 9, Rummel 3, Domenico 3. totals 10 6-18 31.

Pikesville 6 12 24 19 – 61

Smithsburg 2 12 10 7 – 31