This one's for the girls

The Baltimore Sun

How can you go against the girls?

One look at their track record should make you a believer. Three straight years at No. 1. Six straight years as champs in the area's most competitive conference, the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.

Coach Jerome Shelton's girls are on a roll.

This run is putting the Panthers in the same class with the most storied girls teams in Baltimore basketball history, such as Western and Mount Hebron.

There's no reason to expect that's about to end. Who could doubt a team with that recent history and all but one starter back?

And they've already beaten No. 2.

In Monday night's 56-45 win over No. 2 Arundel, the Panthers were just too fast for the Wildcats. They're likely too fast for everyone else, too.

With a backcourt full of defensive pests in Shatyra Hawkes, Tanira McClurkin, Deanna Harmon and Tasia Bristow, the Panthers simply overwhelm opponents. And this group is battle-tested, too. Just about everyone thought they were doomed last season when veteran center Kandice Green sprained an ankle in a Christmas tournament and missed the next six weeks, but the young players, led by Hawkes, kept the Panthers going.

They are also highly motivated. These girls have never known anything but finishing at the top, so they don't want to be the ones to let that end.

Sure that's a lot of pressure, but it's a confidence-booster too. They know what it takes to be No. 1 in the end, and they know they have it. They proved that last season.

I wouldn't bet against them to do it again.

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