Dyzhanay Burton and her City girls basketball teammates exacted their revenge against Poly on Friday night and finally eased the sting of losing last year's Baltimore City championship to their archrival.
Burton, a 5-foot-4, hot-shooting point guard, scored nine of her 19 points in the fourth quarter as the No. 9 Knights rallied from 10 points down to upset the No. 4 Engineers, 48-40, and advance to next week's Baltimore City Division I championship game.
"It's amazing," the junior said. "Ever since I've been on varsity, we've never beaten Poly and I'm enjoying every minute of it."
The Knights (20-2) will face No. 7 Digital Harbor (17-4) for the division title Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Baltimore City Community College.
Friday night, visiting City trailed by 10 points midway through the third quarter before Brionna Bea's runner started the comeback. Koraan Sydnor then banked in an off-balance jumper and Shamara Bell hit three free throws to pull the Knights within 35-31 going into the fourth quarter.
Burton added fuel to her teammate's fire by opening the final quarter with a short jumper and, after Sydnor's layup tied it at 35, Burton hit a long 3-pointer to give the Knights the lead for good. Bea padded the lead with another 3-pointer less than a minute later.
"We knew it was time," Burton said. "The shot was there. We just didn't see them in the first half. We had to capitalize on it because the game was too close."
The Engineers (17-4) built their 10-point lead with an early third-quarter spurt and had a 33-23 lead after Teira Pendleton's layup with 4:52 remaining in the quarter. Then Bea's runner sparked a 19-2 City run and the Engineers went without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes.
"We don't know how to finish" was all Poly coach Kendall Peace-Able could say after her team shot 1-for-11 in the final 12:52.
Nkeiruka Okororie scored the next basket for Poly with 3:10 left in the game and cut the Engineers lead to 41-38. Poly stayed within three until Burton's runner boosted the margin to 45-40 with 1:01 to go and the Engineers had to start fouling.
City coach George Petrides pointed to the contribution from his bench after the Knights' post players Trana' Ford and Brianna Carrington got into foul trouble and managed just two total points. Bell, DeAsia Meyers and Krystal Gladden came off the bench to contribute 13 points.
"Shamara Bell came in and did one heck of a job," Petrides said of the junior forward, who scored all five of her points in the final 10 minutes. "We had a small lineup in for the longest time. We just got more aggressive and started making shots."
For defending city champion Poly, the loss ended a difficult week, which included two defeats that dropped them out of the city final. Digital Harbor completed an unbeaten run through the division with Tuesday's 44-35 victory over Poly.
Burton said the Knights learned a lot from their 61-53 loss to Digital Harbor on Jan. 15. They trailed by 25 points in the third quarter against the Rams and didn't have time to come back.
"We know how we lost to Digital and we improved our team camaraderie, because that's what killed us," Burton. "That was the only thing we needed to improve. The talent and the potential, it was all there. We just needed to work together."
C—Burton 19, Ford 2, Bea 9, Sydnor 5, Meyers 7, Bell 5, Gladden 1. Totals 17 9-22 48.
P—Smith 1, Newton 1, Pendleton 12, Young 8, Okororie 12, Horne 6. Totals 14 11-22 40. Half: P, 25-19.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun