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Sterling effort pushes Pikesville past Western Tech, 52-46, in girls basketball

Western Tech Wolverines' Troi Williams (arm raised, right) and Sydney Stokes (10) defend as Pikesville Panthers forward Charia Roberts gets hit by her own teammate, guard Tyra Robinson (right) while battling Maya Britton (left) for a rebound Fri., Dec. 13, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
Western Tech Wolverines' Troi Williams (arm raised, right) and Sydney Stokes (10) defend as Pikesville Panthers forward Charia Roberts gets hit by her own teammate, guard Tyra Robinson (right) while battling Maya Britton (left) for a rebound Fri., Dec. 13, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff) (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Pikesville wanted to force the ball inside against a smaller Western Tech team in Friday’s girls basketball game, but the Wolverines made that hard to do. Western Tech played a physical and aggressive defense that made life tough for the Panthers offense.

Still, the Panthers came through in the paint just enough to pull out an early-season victory. Kristin Sterling got two put-backs in the final 38 seconds and finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds as No. 5 Pikesville defeated visiting Western Tech, 52-46.

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Pikesville coach Michael Dukes wanted his team, the defending Class 1A state champion, to try and pound the ball down low. But the Panthers did not do it as much as he wanted, partially due to how stingy Western Tech (1-2) played on defense.

“That was the problem; we knew the matchups could’ve been won inside,” Dukes said. “But [Kristin] kind of finished it off for us.”

Pikesville (2-0) led for most of the final three quarters before Tiffany Manning sparked a late charge by Western Tech. Tyra Robinson (11 points) made two free throws that gave the Panthers a 46-36 lead with 2:12 remaining.

Western Tech Wolverines' Maya Britton (43) watches Sydney Stokes (10) swipe at the ball as Pikesville Panthers guard Amya Moore makes a break-away Fri., Dec. 13, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
Western Tech Wolverines' Maya Britton (43) watches Sydney Stokes (10) swipe at the ball as Pikesville Panthers guard Amya Moore makes a break-away Fri., Dec. 13, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff) (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Manning scored a game-high 20 points and posted eight of Western Tech’s 10 points in the final 2:03, helping the Wolverines remain close.

But Sterling’s first put-back became a three-point play and gave Pikesville a 49-42 lead with 38 seconds remaining. Her second follow-up came with 21 seconds left and stretched the Panthers’ lead to 52-44.

“We weren’t really moving the ball inside [enough],” Sterling said. “We just had to keep pushing.”

Pikesville had a size advantage over the Wolverines, and that’s one reason Western Tech wanted to play tough on defense. The Wolverines didn’t want the Panthers to find open shots, and they stuck to their plan.

“They’re too good of a basketball team for us not to go out and be physical,” Western Tech coach Alan Lagon said. “That’s what we really wanted.”

Pikesville also played tough defense, and that’s a big reason both teams finished with 26 turnovers. The Panthers had 10 steals overall and a chance to break the game open in the third quarter thanks to their defense.

Western Tech Wolverines' Sydney Stokes (10) watches Pikesville Panthers guard Amya Moore drive past Maya Britton (43) for a basket Fri., Dec. 13, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
Western Tech Wolverines' Sydney Stokes (10) watches Pikesville Panthers guard Amya Moore drive past Maya Britton (43) for a basket Fri., Dec. 13, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff) (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

At one point late in that period, Pikesville forced turnovers on six of eight Western Tech possessions. The Panthers scored only six points during that stretch, and the quarter ended with Pikesville holding a 35-27 lead — leaving the Wolverines still in the game.

The Panthers stretched the margin to 42-30 on a Charia Roberts follow-up midway through the final period but Western Tech made its late rally.

Pikesville lost a few starters from last year’s first state title team. Dukes said his team is going to have to adjust to that with players needing to step into the right roles.

But Dukes is hopeful since it’s early in the season. His team received offensive help from Cydney Barnes (13 points) as well as Robinson and Sterling, but the coach would like to see fewer games with 26 turnovers — especially because they’ve moved up to Class 2A.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Dukes said. “I was [telling] them that we’re not the team we need to be [just yet].”

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WT - Stokes 9, Jones 4, Ward 9, Manning 20, Williams 4. Totals: 16 10-14 46.

P - F. Glover-Bey 3, Robinson 11, Barnes 13, Sterling 14, Moore 4, Roberts 7. Totals: 21 8-14 52.

Half: P, 23-18.

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