Pikesville Girls Basketball Ready to Further Breakout Season
It'll be tough to find a team this winter season that has improved as much as the Pikesville girls' basketball team.
Last season was a tough one for the Panthers, as the group finished with just five wins. The team's fortunes have completely reversed this season however- Pikesville is 13-1, including an unblemished mark in Baltimore County play.
A couple factors have led to the program's resurgence, the first of which is the addition of head coach Michael Dukes. Another has been a surplus of new players, which in Dukes's eyes has made all the difference for the Panthers.
"We were blessed to have some new talent come to Pikesville. Some talented freshmen, a couple sophomores who left private schools and a senior point guard who relocated to the Pikesville area from New Jersey," Dukes said. "From a talent standpoint, it's been like the perfect storm."
The make-up of the team also indicates that Pikesville could be a force beyond this season. The Panthers start just one senior, and Dukes says that five of the group's top seven players are either freshmen or sophomores.
Headlining that group is sophomore guard Tyra Robinson, who is averaging 16 points per game. Her classmate, Charia Roberts, has also been sensational, averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds. Roberts is getting help in the post from junior Teylah Saunders, who is chipping in eight points and rebounds per game.
Senior point guard Kayla Jackson has provided some upperclassmen leadership for the group, while also adding 10 points and three steals per game. Freshman guard Keante Lewis has been a spark on defense, where she's done an excellent job of setting the tone for Pikesville's energetic defense.
"We prefer to play an uptempo style and create scoring opportunities with pressure defense," Dukes said. "However, we have gifted scorers in the paint and good perimeter shooting as well. The girls do a nice job running the half-court offense when needed."
It's been a winning formula as many of Pikesville's opponents have learned. The Panthers are outscoring their opponents by just under 26 points per games.
The team's lone loss, a 50-48 decision against St. Vincent Pallotti, was a learning experience for the team, one that Dukes thinks will benefit his team down the road.
"We played the game in front of a standing room crowd only," Dukes said. "I thought some of our key players were a little overwhelmed by the moment and didn't perform well. I think they'll respond much better when faced with those circumstances again. I also think the loss helped us to regain focus."
The defeat hasn't slowed Pikesville at all, which has gone on to beat many of Baltimore County's traditional top teams since losing, such as Milford Mill, New Town, and Hereford. For Dukes though, it was the group's opening night victory against Chesapeake-BC, another traditional Baltimore County powerhouse, that spearheaded this exciting campaign.
"We started in late December due to a weather postponement, and Chesapeake was already 3-0," Dukes said. "Following that we went down D.C. and played in the Title IX Tournament. We defeated two tough New York teams- Brooklyn Community Arts and Media, and Bishop Loughlin. That really elevated our confidence."
That confidence has the Panthers believing they have a chance at making some serious noise over the next month as the postseason nears. Pikesville has never won a postseason championship, but with how the team has played thus far that could change soon.
"Surprisingly to many, our goals are to compete for a Baltimore County and 1A championship," Dukes said.
|February 2nd, 2018||By: Wick Eisenberg|