The No. 2 Poly boys basketball team was eager to make program history in Wednesday's Baltimore City Division I championship game against No. 9 Dunbar.
More importantly, the Engineers were well equipped to do it.
Making their first appearance in the big game, the Engineers showed no nerves in overwhelming the Poets with their size and depth, coming away with a complete, start-to-finish performance for a 64-43 win at Coppin State.
Junior forward De'Vondre Perry finished with 17 points, senior guard Deshaun Mosley added 15 and sophomore guard Demetrius Mims had 14 as Poly (19-3) captured the program's first city title.
"It's a culmination of a lot of hard work and preparation. We knew it would be tough and it was at first. But I think our guys knew it was our night. We knew that this year and this time was ours and I'm proud of the way we responded to the moment," said Poly coach Sam Brand.
The two programs were at different ends of the spectrum of boys basketball tradition — the Poets (14-8) are considered the state's most decorated public school, while the Engineers have only one region title on their resume.
Poly didn't need any time to settle in on Wednesday, building a 20-8 lead after the first quarter and extending it to 33-16 at the half. Points were spread out in building the advantage. Perry scored seven straight points early — his 3-pointer with 4:20 to play in the first quarter giving Poly a 9-3 lead. At the end of the quarter, it was Mosley's turn to score a couple of baskets in transition to provide the first double-digit advantage at 18-8 with 47 seconds left. Six different Engineers put up points for Poly in the second quarter, Perry hitting another 3-pointer and then Mims hitting a runner at the buzzer to make it a 17-point game.
The Poets, who got 14 points off the bench from Zephaniah Esguerra, were able to get within single digits in the third quarter — getting a jumper from Damonte Moore with 1:57 left to cut the lead to 37-28 — but Poly got baskets from Mosley, Mims and Perry for a 43-29 lead going into the fourth and never looked back. The Engineers cleared the bench with a little more than a minute remaining.
"It means a lot to us and we're not ready for it to end. We're just cherishing every moment as they come, taking it day by day, real slow and it means the world to us," Perry said.
Poly took the league by storm this season.
The Engineers went 12-0 and their average margin of victory was more than 15 points. A 70-64 win over last-place Digital Harbor on Jan. 12 was their closest game.
In the regular-season finale at Dunbar on Monday, their undefeated league mark was in jeopardy when the Poets enjoyed a 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter. But the Engineers rallied for a 54-44 win. Perry scored 16 of his game-high 33 points in the pivotal fourth quarter to secure the Engineers' perfect standing in league play.