For most of Saturday night's game against No. 2 Roland Park, Poly's Jasmine Smith player her role at point guard, trying to set up her teammates. In the fourth quarter, however, the senior took the scoring into her own hands.
Smith tallied all eight of her points in the last five minutes to spark the No. 5 Engineers to a 53-49 upset of the Reds in the first meeting between the two programs, located only a few miles apart in north Baltimore.
Smith's pull-up 18-footer with 49 seconds left was perhaps the biggest shot of the night, giving the Engineers a 51-48 lead. It was Smith's third basket in a row.
"The way they were playing us, they were matching up man-to-man," Smith said. "So, I knew basically that I could take whoever came out to try to stick me, and my teammates did a great job of setting screens for me, so I could come off and just pull."
Roland Park coach Scott Buckley said he was more worried about the Engineers getting the ball inside, where they were getting a lot of layups, although they missed quite a few, too.
"She made a couple nice shots, and they were tough shots," Buckley said. "If we were going to choose, I think we would choose for her to take that shot and, yeah, if she hits, you lose. As opposed to letting them get the ball inside or get to the rim, they were some tough shots."
For the Engineers (9-1), Class 4A state runners-up last season, it was thrilling to play Roland Park as part of a mixer held at McDonogh that also featured No. 1 McDonogh against No. 3 Aberdeen in the late game.
"It was definitely exciting, because we've never been in a private vs. public [game]," Poly senior Teira Pendleton said. "And it feels really good to be the underdog, actually taking over and showing them what we're really about."
The game was back and forth throughout, with Poly holding a slight edge most of the way. The Engineers' six-point lead early in the second quarter was the biggest of the game. Although Poly appeared ready to break the game open on several occasions, Roland Park (9-5) rallied every time until the clock ran out. Still, Poly led the entire second quarter and most of the third.
Jeydah Johnson's runner tied the game at 35 for Roland Park with 3:04 to go in the third quarter. Smith fed Khepera Stokes for a 37-35 Poly lead with 1:09 left, but Lindsey Edwards, who led the Reds with 14 points, finished a 3-point play to give the Reds the 38-37 edge heading into the final quarter.
An eight-footer by Smith gave the Engineers the lead, 43-42, with 4:44 left in the game, but Jaia Alexander tied it with a pair of free throws. Stokes' runner followed by Smith's steal and layup with 2:27 remaining gave the Engineers the lead for good.
After Smith's 18-footer with 49 seconds left, Edwards hit the front end of a one-and-one, but Pendleton all but sealed the victory when she hit both ends of the double bonus for a four-point lead with 18.5 seconds left.
Pendleton led all scorers with 15 points and had nine rebounds, but she said offense wasn't the key to the victory.
"We started focusing too much on offense and Poly's known as a defensive team," Pendleton said. "So, in the fourth quarter once we realized this game shouldn't be that close, we definitely shut down on D, started bringing in help, rebounding better."
The Engineers, who have lost only to Bethlehem Catholic (Pa.) in the Holly & Hoops tournament, were playing their first ranked team of the season, while the Reds were playing their fourth since Sunday. Poly was also playing its fourth game in seven days.
The Reds, in the midst of a 13-day stretch that includes six ranked opponents, had already beaten No. 6 St. Frances, No. 7 St. Vincent Pallotti and No. 12 Seton Keough this week. They host McDonogh on Wednesday and Aberdeen on Saturday.
No. 5 Poly 53, No. 2 Roland Park 49
P—Smith 8, Stokes 12, Young 8, Newton 4, Pendleton 15, Pearson 2, Horne 2, Okororie 2. Totals 19 13-25 53.
RP—Alexander 6, Edwards 14, Johnson 10, Holder 4, Andrews 1, Clay 8, Carter 6. Totals 18 10-16 49. Half: P, 29-24.