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Western Tech rallies to lead in second half, but falls to Coppin Academy in the end

Western Tech's Tiffany Manning puts up a shot over Coppin Academy's Kayla Henderson while Coppin's Jayln Richardson, left, looks on in the Eagles' 55-51 win in the regional finals.
Western Tech's Tiffany Manning puts up a shot over Coppin Academy's Kayla Henderson while Coppin's Jayln Richardson, left, looks on in the Eagles' 55-51 win in the regional finals.(Craig Clary / BSMG)

Coppin Academy trailed host Western Tech 50-49 after the Wolverines’ Destiny Ward hit a three-pointer with 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles scored six of the final seven points and escaped with a 55-51 win in the Class 1A North Section I Region championship game.

The win sends Coppin (17-5) to the state quarterfinals. Western Tech ends it season with an 18-5 mark.

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A three-pointer by Tahae Galloway (eight points) with 1:55 left gave Coppin a 52-50 lead and she added a free throw with 1:27 left for a 53-50 lead.

The Wolverines appeared to pull within one on a layup with a l:10 to play, but a 3-second violation was called.

Western Tech’s Tiffany Manning (nine points) answered with a free throw with 21 seconds left, but the Eagles sealed it on free throws by Henderson and Nyshae Weaver (10 points).

Henderson had made a big play earlier in the quarter with a steal and fast-break bucket that put the Eagles ahead 49-47 with 2:20 remaining.

“That was the turnaround of the game right there,” Coppin coach Ulysses Hardy said.

Coppin looked like they were putting the game away in the first half when they built a 13-point lead and took a 30-20 lead into intermission.

Jayln Richardson (team-high 16 points) led the Eagles in the first half with 12 points and Tiffany Manning led the Wolverines with eight.

Manning, the school’s all-time leading scorer with well over 1,000 points, was held by Richardson to one point in the second half, but her defense and hustle, that included six steals, sparked a second-half rally that turned a 10-point deficit into a 7-point Western Tech lead in the fourth quarter.

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“That’s what we try to do is trigger up the defense,” Western Tech coach Alan Lagon said.

Western Tech’s comeback was spearheaded by Destini Ward and Sydney Stokes.

Stokes had five assists and Ward scored 18 of her game-high 22 points in the second half

They also got contributions off the bench from Maya Britton and Imani Gross (four points each).

Western Tech outscored the Eagles 28-8 in the third quarter and Ward’s basket tied it 38-all going into the final stanza.

Ward, a sophomore, got even hotter in the fourth quarter when she canned three treys and scored 12 points.

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Her second 3-pointer gave the Wolverines a 46-39 lead with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter.

At that point, Coppin clawed back with defense focusing on Ward and Manning.

“I felt like we had to rise to the occasion, we just came to play and focused,” Richardson said. “I definitely felt we had to come back harder, just because we were up didn’t mean anything.”

Hardy made sure he didn’t let Manning and Ward beat his squad down the stretch.

“I put my best two defenders on their two (Manning an Ward),” he said.

Down seven, Coppin started its comeback with two baskets by Aniya Hills (eight points), making it 46-43.

A hoop by Henderson and steal and chippie by Richardson capped an 8-1 run that got the Eagles back in the game.

“We made adjustments, but we are battle-tested, we go on the road more than we play at home just for times like this in the playoffs,” Hardy said. “You have to be battle-tested, you need one like this.”

Western Tech coach Lagon praised his team’s refusal to quit after falling behind big in the first half.

“That’s one of the reasons why we have been having a great season all year, that’s why this senior class played for the county title two years in a row, they’ve had a good two-year run,” he said. “I’m proud of everything they have accomplished, we don’t have feeder programs and we get what we get and its interesting because people always think of the best teams in the area and nobody talks about Western Tech and all we ever do is string together great seasons.”

Scoring

Coppin Academy 55

Jayln Richardson 16, Kayla Henderson 10, Nyshae Weaver 10, Tahae Galloway 8, Aniya Hills 8, Arries Ealy 3.

Western Tech 51

Destini Ward 22, Sydney Stokes 12, Tiffany Manning 9, Maya Britton 4, Imani Gross 4.

Halftime: Coppin 30-20

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