The Edmondson boys basketball team has a largely different cast from last year's Class 2A state title team, but the new Red Storm certainly appear to have many of the same qualities.
This year's team plays the same scrappy defense, shares the basketball on offense and has a knack for finding ways to win games.
More proof came Friday at No. 5 Poly, where No. 6 Edmondson started fast and was able to maintain a safe margin throughout a 73-61 win over the Engineers.
"One thing I learned about them is we're starting to jell," Edmondson coach Darnell Dantzler said.
Senior guard Chaz Lassiter led four Red Storm in double figures with 19 points and added 14 assists. Senior guard Sean Burke had 15 points, junior guard Rashad Wattie scored 14 points and junior forward Joshua Garrett contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
Edmondson improved to 8-1 overall and 2-0 in Baltimore City Division 1 play. Poly, which started the season 6-0, is now 6-4 and 0-2 in league play.
With junior forward Kani Coles (4 points, 12 rebounds) on the bench for much of the first half due to foul trouble, junior DeAndre Lloyd got extra minutes and responded with six points.
After starting the game on an 11-0 run led by Lassiter's six points, the Red Storm overcame foul trouble, a difficult night at the free-throw line (16 for 36) and withstood every push that came from Poly.
Coming off a home win against No. 11 Dunbar on Tuesday, the Red Storm's strong showing on the road at Poly provided further validation, and made Dantzler proud of his improving team.
"Kani goes from being a sixth man [last year] to being the focal point of my offense. Same with Sean Burke, he came off the bench last year, but now he's playing major minutes," Dantzler said. "Getting Rashad, Josh and Chaz — I knew it would be a learning curve trying to get them all on board — but they've been jelling well, and I think we're ahead of our expectations, and I'm hoping we can finish this off."
Settling for hurried outside shots early in the game, the Engineers fell behind and were never able to fully recover. They closed the gap to 30-23 before halftime and senior guard John Crosby (team-high 18 points) banked home a 3-pointer on their first possession in the third quarter to close the gap to 30-26.
But the Red Storm were quick to restore order, getting a basket from Coles and then two straight from Lassiter to push the lead back up to 36-26.
With 47 personal fouls called and the teams combining on 65 free throw attempts, the game was played at a slow pace. Poly was never able to find its flow.
"After we got off to the slow start, guys tried to take the game over individually and that's not how we play," Poly coach Sam Brand said. "We just couldn't get back into it. I don't know, I'm just real disappointed with the team's effort."
6 Edmondson 73, 5 Poly 61
E –Wattie 14, Burke 15, Coles 4, McClain 6, Lassiter 19, Garrett 11, Lloyd 4. Totals: 28 16-36 73
P – Crosby 18, Kelly 13, Lindsay 7, Quickley 10, Thomspon 9, Irvin 4 .Totals: 18 17-29 61.
Half: E, 30-23