Girls basketball: Western Tech wins school's first regiona title

The 2012 Western Tech girls basketball team engraved its place in school history when the Wolverines became the first to win a regional championship.

Top-seeded Western Tech defeated visiting New Town, 42-36, Friday night in the Class 1A North Region final to earn the distinction.

The Western Tech boys lost to New Town on Saturday in their attempt to match the girls with their first regional title.

Western Tech's girls proved you can win even when the other team has the ball more often.

The Wolverines (22-4) overcame 44 turnovers, but forced 35 New Town turnovers. They also held them to just 23 percent (13-for-57) shooting from the floor.

Standout junior guard Jannah Tucker led New Town (20-6) with 23 points, but she had to earn them.

"Tucker is so good, so we said, 'you have to get a hand in her face and if she shoots jumpers all night we will be successful,'" Western Tech coach Nolan Roe said.

Junior forward Daija Coles (9 points) had the assignment of guarding her after being clear to play Wednesday after her tooth was knocked out in the county championship game against Milford Mill.

Tucker missed her first nine shots from the field in the first quarter, but hit a late free throw with 26 seconds for her only point.

At that time, the Wolverines led 13-5 and everywhere Tucker went, Coles and seniors Ateh Ade (8 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocked shots and Jayde Duncan (8 points, 16 rebounds) shadowed her.

Western Tech sophomore Sydney Clopton was the Wolverines' offensive catalyst in the first quarter when she canned a pair of three-pointers.

"Sydney was great for us," Roe said.

Although she didn't hit another three pointer, she added four free throws and led the winners with 10 points and seven steals.

New Town trailed 23-15 at halftime and looked on the verge of getting blown out, with three starters saddled with three fouls each.

Western Tech went on a 6-0 run, capped by a banked trey from Coles with 6:56 left in the third period, that gave them a 29-15 lead.

That's when New Town's tenacious defense, that mirrors Western Tech's, took over.

Sparked by Tucker, Jasmine Cole, Keyaira Wilson, Amber Green and Tiana Davis, the Titans went on 12-0 run and closed the third quarter trailing only 29-27.

Tucker had nine points and Davis banked in the other three from long range.

"We had to stick together at that point," said Ade, one of three starting seniors with Duncan and Tyshay Montgomery. "If we didn't, we would have fallen apart."

Everybody stuck together in the final period with Montgomery and freshman Deja Dennis leading the way.

The 5-foot-7 Montgomery (6 steals) had the task of guarding 6-foot-1 Tucker after Coles picked up her fourth foul with 2:01 left in the third period.

"Coles and Montgomery did a heckuva job just staying in front of her and making her shoot those jumpers," Roe said.

Dennis didn't play at all the first three quarters, but foul trouble and fatigue took its toll during the frenetically-paced game.

"I looked down the bench and she was the next best option," Roe said.

She got on the stat sheet with a rebound, then hit two clutch free throws to make it 31-27.

Montgomery added a pair of free throws, upping the lead to six, but Tucker answered, making it 33-29 with 5:07 remaining.

On the next possession, Dennis drove the lane and dished to Duncan for a jumper that stretched the lead to 35-29.

Clopton fed Ade for a baseline jumper from the opposite side and the Wolverines led 37-29.

Tucker wouldn't let the Titans go quietly. She was fouled on a three-point attempt and converted all three and they trailed 37-32 with 3:14 remaining.

Ade's putback was answered by baskets from New Town's Cole and Sydney Hines and the Titans were within three, 39-36, with Hines on the line trying to convert a three-point play with 1:03 left.

She missed and Duncan grabbed the rebound and quickly found Dennis.

The undaunted freshman went coast-to-coast and converted the basket and the ensuing free throw for the final points of the game with 56.6 left.

"I had to contribute," Dennis said.

Duncan knew she was off to the races when she fed her the pass.

"I let her go," she said. "I had confidence in her because I've seen her improve her game. She makes them every time. I have no regrets giving her the ball."

The only regret Roe may have had was not inserting in the game earlier.

"I said, 'Go get it, I believe in you,' and she took care of it," Roe said.

"It was tough, but the better team won," New Town coach Gena Young said.

Western Tech will play the winner of Saturday's North Carroll/Fort Hill game in the state semifinals at UMBC, Thursday, March 8 at 9 p.m.

"We're excited," Roe said. "We've got the 9 o'clock time and we've got plenty of time to prepare."

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