Poly High girls basketball coach Kendall Peace-Able said Tuesday “she feels the same way about her team” as she did exactly a year ago.
That could be a good or troubling sign, depending on one’s view. No. 3 Poly won the Baltimore City championship with a 52-44 victory over No. 14 Western at Morgan State University’s Hill Field House Tuesday.
Senior guard Da’Brya Clark finished with 19 points for Poly (21-2 overall), and Taylor Addison added 12. Junior post Breasia Colt led all scorers with 21 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for Western (15-5).
The Engineers held off the Doves down the stretch to win their fourth city title in the last five full seasons. Last year, Western routed Poly in the city championship game, but the Engineers rebounded to win their first state title.
Against a Dove squad it manhandled during the regular season, veteran-laden Poly was disjointed for a good portion Tuesday.
“We need to pick it up…we seemed off pace. We need to recollect,” said Peace-Able, whose team’s previous big match was a 62-39 pounding at the hands of eventual IAAM A Conference champ and current No. 1 McDonogh two weeks ago.
I think the lights were kind of too bright against McDonogh. I don’t think we played together as a team. Today, we played together as a team, but we didn’t rebound well.”
Poly’s best stretch Tuesday came in the first five minutes of the third quarter with a 14-4 surge, turning a tight 28-26 advantage into 42-30 with 2 minutes, 35 seconds left in the third quarter. The Engineers attacked in transition with Trinity Massenburg scoring twice and Addison banking a runner off the glass and converting an off-balance shot.
“We were getting to the rim, getting easier shots,” said Clark. “We started really strong on defense.”
Poly had a 45-34 early in the fourth after a basket from senior Riley Holliday, but Western refused to go away. The Doves closed to 46-43 with 3:28 left in regulation following freshman Iyanna Bell’s jumper and free throw.
With Poly up, 48-44, with under 50 seconds remaining, Clark had the ball stolen from her Dove guard Michaela Hammonds. The Norfolk State recruit quickly recovered, stealing the ball back and was fouled with 30.2 seconds remaining.
Clark converted two free throws and added two more with 17.4 seconds to secure Poly’s seventh city title since 2012.
Poly defeated Western, 68-30, last month.
“Honestly, our intensity and effort on defense was worse,” said Clark.
Clark said Poly didn’t play well against the 6-foot-3 Coit, who dominated on both ends of the paint Tuesday. She accounted for 15 points in the opening half.
“They (Western) didn’t give up today. They were the same team we played last month, but they didn’t give up and that’s Western I’ve known,” said Peace. “It doesn’t matter about skill level , it doesn’t matter how many people you have, it matters that you’re hitting the right stride going into the playoffs.”
Doves coach Tasha Townsend couldn’t help but be excited after her team’s effort Tuesday. The reigning Class 4A state champ was neck-to-neck with Poly in the first half including a 12-10 advantage after the opening quarter.
“They had in them the first time, it just had to come out…They’re young,” said Townsend. “The leadership had to come out, the youth had to come out, the hunger had to come out. We improved on the things we needed to. We competed and made it respectable.”
Western, which won its first state title in three decades last winter, begins its title defense Monday against either Perry Hall or Mervo in the North Region I semifinals.
Poly will host either Milford Mill or Patterson in the 3A North Region I semifinals Monday afternoon.
“We started off pretty strong, but recently we’ve been a little distracted,” said Clark, one of four returning starters. “We have to turn some things around before we go into the most important part of our season.”
BALTIMORE CITY CHAMPIONSHIP
at Morgan State University
NO. 3 POLY 52, NO. 13 WESTERN 44
Western - Gray 10, Fowkles 4, Bell 5, Hammonds 2, Hunt 2, Coit 21. Totals 17 9-13 44.
Poly - Pope 6, Holliday 5, Massenburg 7, Johnson 3, Addison 12, Clark 19. Totals 17 14-22 52.
Western 12 14 6 12 - 44
Poly 10 18 15 9 - 42