The race for the top spot in Baltimore City Division I girls basketball likely will come down to three teams — Poly, Digital Harbor and City — so when Digital Harbor started pulling away from City on Tuesday, the Rams wanted to keep rolling, because a big early margin could make all the difference.
No. 5 Digital Harbor ran up as much as a 25-point lead midway through the third quarter, and it needed most of it to hold on for a 61-53 win following a late surge from No. 11 and previously undefeated City.
In the first quarter, the Rams were rebounding, running the floor and getting to the free-throw line. They outrebounded City, 14-4, in the quarter and went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.
"We just came out on fire," Digital Harbor senior A'Lexus Harrison said. "We had to pull away from them early, because as you saw they can come back. We wanted to put the game out of reach early."
Visiting City (12-1) didn't score for the first four minutes and that helped the Rams (11-1) build a 20-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Sophomore guard Tyeisha Smith got hot in the second quarter and sparked Digital Harbor to a 22-point lead at halftime.
Smith, who finished with 16 points, hit four jump shots, including two 3-pointers through the middle of the second quarter, and added an 18-footer 24 seconds before the half as the Rams led 37-15 at the break.
The Rams' biggest lead came midway through the third quarter when Deja Carroll fed Harrison (12 points, 18 rebounds) on the fast break to pull ahead, 47-22, with 3:24 left.
The Knights trailed by 20 going into the final quarter, but DeAsia Meyers opened with a 3-pointer and City cut the Rams' lead to nine after she banked in another 3-pointer with 4:31 to go.
Digital Harbor pushed its lead to 60-44 when Harrison fed MiQueara Lewis (17 points) for a layup with 2:23 left.
The Rams, however, got a bit careless with the ball and City picked off three straight inbound passes under their own basket to fuel a 9-0 run. Two free throws from Trana' Ford cut Digital Harbor's edge to 60-53, but the Knights couldn't get closer.
"I think they realized they were a lot better than that. They just had to play a lot harder," City coach George Petrides said. "They were nervous at the beginning. I don't why. I don't want to belittle anybody, but we haven't played any team even close to their caliber. It may be a little wake-up call."
Both teams have games remaining with defending city champion Poly, which is undefeated in the division along with Digital Harbor while City has one loss.
The Rams host the No. 4 Engineers on Feb. 12. The Knights, led Tuesday by Dyzhanay Burton's 17 points, head to Poly for the Feb. 14 regular-season finale and a rematch of last year's championship game.
C—Meyers 8, Burton 17, Ford 11, Bell 4, Bea 2, Sydnor 7 Carrington 2, Gladden 2. Totals 16 16-33 53.
DH—T.Smith 16, Carroll 4, Lewis 17, Scarborough 6, Harrison 12, Alston 6. Totals 21 17-35 61. Half: DH, 37-15Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun