Pikesville’s No. 13 girls basketball team needed a team effort and a game-winning layup from Darielle Weems to fight off No. 14 Hereford’s fourth-quarter comeback attempt Wednesday night.
The host Panthers did not trail until Hereford’s Lauren Kraft hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter for a 30-29 Bulls lead. Pikesville, which led by 13 points in the second quarter, battled through six lead changes to finally come away with a 41-35 victory in a key Baltimore County contest.
Weems, a 5-8 junior forward who provided the Panthers’ inside muscle most of the game, hit a layup on a feed from Mariah Jones-Bey with 1:12 left for a 37-35 lead. About a minute later, Weems batted away a Bulls pass and Hereford did not manage another shot.
“I was just excited and happy, because our team really wanted to beat them,” Weems said. “They were our rival last year and we did lose to them last year and we didn’t get a chance to go to counties, so this year, counties is up top of the list we’re trying to get.”
Panthers coach Mike Dukes, whose team improved to 9-3, said Weems, who finished with 11 points, made a big difference inside.
“She was able to get into the lane and she was just finishing so many plays with her left hand down there,” Dukes said. “It’s nice to see, because she’s been putting that work in in practice and just seeing her executing in the game is huge.”
Dukes, whose team is the defending Class 1A state champion, also praised shooting ace Mahles, who also finished with 11 points, for nailing the 20-footer that gave the Panthers a 33-32 edge with 4:21 left. He was also pleased that the Panthers didn’t panic when Hereford pulled ahead.
“We led all the game and once they got the lead and really had momentum, we’re just really happy the girls stayed calm,” Dukes said. “We knew it was going to be a fight and a tough game. When I get the schedule, the first thing I look for is when do we play Hereford and I was really glad they had to come to us this time.”
The Bulls (7-2) managed one last lead after Mahles’ basket. Lauren Orner, who scored18 points, answered with her fourth 3-pointer of the night to push Hereford ahead 35-33.
Then the turnovers doomed the Bulls.
On their next possession, Bowen, a Panthers senior guard, grabbed a steal and finished the driving layup to tie the game at 35 with 3:20 to go.
Hereford turned the ball over twice more and Weems made them pay for an illegal screen with the layup that gave the Panthers the lead for good at 37-53. Jones-Bey said she never hesitated to feed the ball inside.
“Every time I drive, she’s always open and she always finishes,” Jones-Bey said, “so I have confidence in her when I do give it to her. Every time I look to drive, I always look at my bigs first before anything, because they’re always open.”
Aliyah Taylor’s steal with 28 seconds left forced the Bulls to foul. Jones-Bey hit two free throws with 22.7 seconds left. After Weems batted away the pass under the Bulls basket, Bowen was fouled and made both ends of the one-and one.
The Panthers switched defense including a box-and-one and a triangle-and-two to try to contain Kraft and Orner, who combined for 29 points, but Hereford coach Dave Schreiner said eight turnovers in the fourth quarter — two in the final minute — made the difference.
“When we had a little bit of a lead, we turned the ball over a few times and we didn’t get any opportunities,” he said. “At the end — something I’ve got to teach my kids is when there’s like 50 seconds left and we’re only down by two, we don’t want to foul. You just want to play good D and get the ball back.”
NO. 13 PIKESVILLE 41, NO. 14 HEREFORD 35
Hereford 6 12 10 7 — 35
Pikesville 12 9 8 12 — 41
Hereford—Ellis Reynolds 2, Lauren Kraft 11, Lauren Orner 18, Annabelle Grenzer 4. Totals: 13 3-7 35.
Pikesville—Mariah Jones-Bey 2, Amya Moore 2, Darielle Weems 11, Aliyah Taylor 4, Bree Taylor 2, Korai Bowen 7, Tykeisha Hill 2, Jayda Mayles 11. Totals 16 5-8 41.