COLLEGE PARK — Sometimes, it’s what you don’t do that wins you championships. Just ask Pikesville.
The Panthers built a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and then held on late to beat Allegany County’s Mountain Ridge, 38-33, winning the Class 1A state championship on Saturday at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center.
Jayda Mayles led No. 9 Pikesville (22-5) with 14 points, while Mariah Jones-Bey contributed 11. Sydney Snyder led the Miners (20-7) with 12 points.
Mountain Ridge advanced to the championship by taking advantage of defensive mistakes and making field goals in a semifinal win over Forest Park. The Panthers made sure not to make the same errors.
“It was a huge emphasis [for us],” Pikesville coach Michael Dukes said. “One of the things I wrote on the board was to be aggressive, but stay disciplined. We knew we couldn’t do that against this team and still win.”
Pikesville did exactly that down the stretch, playing with the poise and confidence of a defending state champion. It’s Pikesville’s third straight state championship dating back to the 2018-19 season, as no state champions were crowned in 2020 or 2021 because of coronavirus restrictions.
After a defensive-minded first half where the teams combined for only 25 points, the game turned early in the fourth quarter for the Panthers.
Leading by seven early in the fourth and the Panthers mired in a bit of an offensive slump, Mayles hit back-to-back 3-pointers from the corner to extend the lead to 29-16 with just over six minutes left.
“It got us all pumped up,” Mayles said. “It gave us the energy we needed, both offensively and defensively.”
The two shots seemed to fire up the Panthers, who turned up the defensive pressure and forced a shot clock violation on the next defensive series.
Pikesville led by 10 midway through the fourth quarter, but Mountain Ridge was not done. The Miners got two free throws from Rhegan Lamberson and a jumper by Snyder to cut the lead to 31-25 with 2:35 left.
Despite two 3-pointers from the Miners down the stretch, the Panthers made their free throws in the final minutes, making 7 of 12 to put the game away.
The Panthers’ defense was equally impressive in the game. The aggressive but under-control style led Pikesville to hold the Miners to a 19% field goal percentage for the game (8-for-42). Mountain Ridge went nearly 10 minutes late in the first quarter and most of the second quarter without a field goal.
“Their defense was a huge part of the game, but we had two or three open looks that didn’t go down,” said Mountain Ridge coach Rob Duncan. “If those shots, which we usually make, had fallen, it could have been a much different game.”
Dukes said of the three championships, this one was the most special.
“I’m just tremendously proud of this team,” Dukes said. “This one was really actually the most rewarding. “We were underdogs this year. We lost a few pieces and some people counted us out. We talked to the ladies and told them that you can’t let those things define your season. We need a balanced team this year, and that’s really what we were all year.”
MR — R. Lamberson 7, Sivic 10, Snyder 12, B. Lamberson 2, Tringler 2. Totals: 11 14-15 33.
P — Jones Bey 11, Taylor 9, Bowen 1, Mayles 14, Weems 2, Moore 1. Totals: 15 11-23 38.
Half: 16-9, P