Pikesville won four games in the 2016-17 season and rarely had been any kind of a force in girls basketball since the school opened in the mid-1960s.
But Michael Dukes changed everything when he took over as coach before last season. The Panthers won 22 games in 2017-18 and made it to the Class 1A state semifinals, where they lost, something that gave the team motivation for this season.
Dukes said his Pikesville team set the bar higher, and they wanted it all this year. They got just that. The Panthers won the Baltimore County, North Region and Class 1A state title, the first time in school history that any basketball team won a state crown. They finished 26-4.
“We really had a lot of balance all year,” said Dukes, a former St. Frances assistant. “We certainly had balanced scoring, but everything started at our defense, for sure.”
That defense helped Pikesville cause three turnovers and score three baskets in less than 20 seconds in the third quarter of the state final against Smithsburg, a sequence that helped change the game. The Panthers scored 27 points off turnovers in a 61-31 rout that day.