Poly's girls basketball team has relied on defense all season, and the offense usually follows. But not in Thursday night's state semifinal.
In a showdown of undefeated teams, the No. 3 Engineers shot just 24 percent from the field, and that wasn't nearly enough against defending champion Gaithersburg. After a slow start, the Trojans (26-0) pulled away in the second quarter en route to their 51st consecutive win, 47-30, in a Class 4A semifinal at UMBC's RAC Arena.
Instead of playing for their first state title, the Engineers ended their season 23-1. The Trojans, who got 26 points from senior guard Colleen Marshall, advance to meet Wise, the team they beat 58-38 last season, for the title-game rematch Saturday at 3 p.m.
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The Engineers didn't need to look beyond that 24-precent shooting statistic for their troubles. They took 54 shots to the Trojans' 41 but hit only 13.
"We needed to keep pushing and finish," Poly forward Jillian Lee said. "We got the looks and we weren't finishing, and that was a big problem."
Lee led the Engineers with 14 points, but no one else scored more than four.
Poly's only lead was 2-1 as the Engineers held the Trojans without a field goal for the first five and a half minutes, but when the Trojans started hitting, they slowly built their lead. The game began to get away from Poly early in the second quarter when Gaithersburg scored eight straight points, including two Marshall 3-pointers, to take a 21-8 lead. By the end of the third quarter, they ran it up to 40-21.
"We got a little big stagnant," Poly coach Kendall Peace-Able said, "and we went away from some things we were working for. Most of the post play was kind of similar, but some of the bumping around and banging around is a little different from what we're used to except a couple of times a year. But not an issue. We just didn't get to the line."
The Engineers held Gaithersburg well below its 63.8 scoring average but they didn't come close to their own scoring average of 55.
Peace-Able said one loss did nothing to diminish the Engineers season, but that was a bit hard for the players to agree with Thursday.
"I'm pretty sure in a couple of days I'll be back to my normal self," guard Blair Harding said. "It's tough for me right now as a senior, because we wanted this a lot and this really hurts."
Wise 64, North Point 62: Eliqua Brooks scored 30 points and Khadijah Gibson added 18 to lead the Pumas (24-1) to their second straight semifinal victory. The Pumas' only loss was to No. 1 Aberdeen in a holiday tournament. North Point missed a 3-point attempt to win at the buzzer. The Eagles (24-2), who defeated No. 10 Meade and South River to win their regional title, had four players in double figures led by Khalia Prather's 12 points.
P—Lee 10, Smith 2, Alston 8, Harding 3, Newton 2, Pendelton 1. Totals 13 4-6 30.
G—Rollins 9, Jackson 3, Fauntroy 2, Marshall 26, Mabry 7. Totals 16 11-17 47. Half: 25-17.