In a battle of Baltimore County girls basketball powers, Pikesville made a strong opening statement.
After a 3-pointer at the buzzer by junior Amayah Frazier gave the Panthers a 31-21 lead at halftime on Friday night, Pikesville started the third quarter on an 11-2 run and never looked back on the way to a 72-50 victory.
The game was a rematch of the past two Baltimore County championship games, both won by Pikesville. The Panthers went on to win a state title in 2019 and were declared state semifinalists when COVID canceled the state tournament in 2020.
Freshman Amori Jarrett led the Panthers (1-0) with 20 points and Amya Moore (15), Frazier (10) and Jayda Maylas (10) also scored in double figures.
Western Tech (1-1) was led by Destini Ward (18 points) and Dyani Mattar (11).
At halftime, Pikesville coach Michael Dukes was concerned after watching a lead that got to 13 points early in the second quarter shrivel to seven. The Panthers took an 11-0 lead before Western Tech clawed back.
“We weren’t happy,” Dukes said. “We said that game could go either way. A 10-point lead on the road is not a big lead.”
Pikesville heated up the defensive intensity in the third quarter and unleashed its transition game, outscoring the Wolverines 32-10 in the quarter. Jarrett had nine points in the third.
“She’s strong and we knew she wouldn’t play like a freshman when she came in,” Dukes said.
Moore, who had the assist to Frazier for the 3-pointer at the end of the first half, also had nine points in the pivotal quarter.
Ward, who has signed to play in college at St. Francis (Pa.) next year, had 12 points in the second half, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
“We knew coming into this game, even though it was the second game of the season it was going to be hard, it wasn’t going to be easy, so we went down 11-0, we knew that couldn’t be the end of it,” Ward said. “We had to keep fighting and even when we closed the gap and they brought it back up we knew it was all about runs.”
Western Tech coach Alan Lagon, whose Wolverines defeated Dulaney by eight points in their season opener, was proud of the way his team bounced back after the rocky start.
“That’s one of the things I’m encouraged about this season, they definitely have some spirit, the question is can we put it all together,” Lagon said.
During the second quarter rally, Western Tech got five points from Danielle Weeks, four from Ward and three from Matta while getting good looks on offense and forcing turnovers on defense.
But they couldn’t sustain that effort in the second half.
“When we did actually run what we were supposed to do and execute what we were supposed to, we got the open shots we wanted,” Lagon said. “You’ve got to do it for four quarters, not one or two.”
Mistakes the Wolverines got away with against Dulaney were punished by Pikesville.
“They are the defending state and county champions for a reason,” said Lagon, whose squad could see the Panthers again in the county championship game or in the regional playoffs. “It’s going to be a learning process to get to where we want to go. We’ve just got to keep learning.”
Although Dukes has several new faces in the lineup, his expectations remain high.
“They know coming in our expectations are county and state championships, if we don’t get there we don’t, but those are definitely our expectations,” Dukes said. “We don’t know if this will be our best team, but we do feel like this is our deepest team.”
Amori Jarrett 20, Amya Moore 15, Amayah Frazier 10, Jayda Maylas 10, Tykeisia Hill 9, Bree Taylor 3, Kelsey Parker 2, Danielle Weems 1, Korai Brown 1, Autumn Edison 1.
Western Tech 50
Destini Ward 18, Dyani Mattar 11, Amya Pulley 7, Danielle Weeks 5, Imani Groce 3, Kyli Savage 2, Ania Fredericks 2, Hannah Millen 2.
Halftime: 31-21 Pikesville