The undefeated City boys basketball team was clearly amped up to get the playoffs started, and that showed early in Tuesday's game against visiting Poly.
First, Timmy Bond went over a defender to get above the rim and dunk home two points early in the first quarter. Less than a minute later, Kamau Stokes finished off a nifty reverse layup in transition.
The No. 1 Knights attacked the basket relentlessly, hit their open jumpers and methodically separated themselves from the Engineers to come away with a 78-66 win in the Class 3A East Section I semifinal.
City improved to 23-0 and will return to the court on Thursday, set to take on the winner of Wednesday's semifinal game between Mount Hebron and Centennial.
The Knights had six players score eight or more points, with Juwan Grant leading City with 19 points. Stokes added 15, Omari George finished with 14 and Bond had 10 points before leaving late in the game after spraining his left ankle.
"We tried to come out with a lot of intensity. We had already played Poly and we beat them, so we knew they were going to come with more intensity. We knew we had to max it out because if we lose we know we're going home," said Bond, who was still hobbling after the game. "We can't think too far ahead. We have to focus on the next game, so we're not thinking about getting to Comcast [Center]."
Midway through the second quarter, Stokes took a long outlet pass from Bond for an easy layup and their first double-digit lead, 24-14, with 5:50 left in the half. Stokes would go on to score 10 points in the quarter — including a 3-pointer in the middle of a closing, 11-4 run that would give the Knights a 37-21 lead at halftime.
The home team's advantage would grow to 45-25 — its biggest — midway through the third quarter on the way to the comfortable win. The only damper for City came when Bond was fouled hard under the basket with 2:07 to play.
He said the ankle "hurt real bad" and he would do whatever he could to rehab it and be ready for the next game. Because Howard County didn't have school on Tuesday, the Knights have an extra day to prepare.
All four City players to reach double figures in scoring were seniors with John Grant, another senior, adding eight points. The senior class was honored after the game with framed jerseys and a photo.
"It's a very special group," City coach Daryl Wade said. "They're a very close knit team and they want to win and I enjoy being around them."
Poly, which got a game-high 31 points from senior guard John Crosby, ended its season with a 14-9 record. Terray Quickly scored 10 points and Marcel Thompson added 14 for the Engineers.
Class 3A East Section I semifinal
1 City 78, Poly 66
P – Crosby 31, Quickley 19, Thompson 14, Sampson 2. Totals: 23 13-19 66
C – Ju. Grant 19, Davis 8, Bond 10, Stokes 15, George 14, Jo. Grant 8, Butler 2, Johnson 2. Totals: 25 25-35 78
Half: C, 37-21