No. 3 Poly takes pride in its defense. Friday night it won the Engineers a championship.
Host Poly used a mixture of defenses and a bucketful of toughness to win its 23rd consecutive game, defeating Springbrook, 31-23, in the Class 4A North region final.
The Engineers will play the winner of Saturday's Gaithersburg-Northwest game in the Class 4A state semifinals Thursday at 5 p.m. at UMBC.
To say that Poly's offense was having an off night would be kind. The Engineers (23-0) had numerous opportunities to build a large lead, but their shots just weren't falling. Luckily for Poly, the defense played its typical hard-nosed style of game, throwing an array of presses, zones, and straight man-to-man to confuse the visiting Blue Devils (18-8) from Montgomery County.
"We played out of control at times [offensively]," said sophomore Teira Pendleton, who led the Engineers with nine points. "We knew we just had to stay humble on defense and work hard and the shots would fall. They eventually did."
After leading 15-10 at the half, the Engineers began to find their stride in the third quarter. Behind layups by Jillian Lee, Blair Harding, and Pendleton, Poly scored seven of the first nine points of the quarter to take a 22-12 lead.
Springbrook responded with layups by Jasmin Dancy and Capree Garner to cut the margin to 22-16 with 2:51 left in the third. After Poly extended the lead to 27-17 at the end of the third quarter, the Blue Devils made their final run.
The Devils, on a jumper by Jessica Brooks and free throws by Garner and Dancy, cut the lead to 27-22 with 3:42 left in the game. But the Engineers got baskets by Pendleton and Lee and held Springbrook scoreless the rest of the way to take the victory.
"Some days you get good offense and some days you get good defense. If you are a coach, you are blessed when you get both in the same game," said Poly's Kendall Peace-Able. "Today we had the defense, and it carried us through the nerves we had early on. That's why I love this group of kids. They never give up on a game, or on each other. Those traits will serve them well in life, and make them outstanding women and mothers."
Class 4A, North regional championship
No. 3 Poly 31, Springbrook 22
S — Kong 6, Brooks 4, Garner 5, Pierre-Paul 2, Dancy 4, Jervier 2. Totals: 7 6-10 22.
P — Pendleton 9, Harding 7, Smith 3, Alston 4, Crockett 2, Lee 6. Totals: 11 8-20 31.
Half: Poly, 15-10.