Emotions always run high when next-door rivals Poly and Western take the court. In their latest meeting on Friday, however, tensions nearly boiled over.
The physical game was halted and both head coaches ejected with 4:48 left in the third quarter, after a problem at the scorers' table quickly escalated into a heated exchange involving coaches, players and the raucous overflow crowd at Western.
Once play resumed, however, it was the No. 7 Doves who managed to emerge from the chaotic scene with a 45-41 win over the No. 13 Engineers.
Sophomore Makayla Pickens scored 15 points, including a pair of clutch foul shots with 16.9 seconds left, and the Doves' trapping defense forced 26 turnovers to help give them their second win over their rival in a month.
"We just wanted to calm down, take our time, keep the tempo of the game and just play our game," Pickens said. "We just had to lock in and not worry about the calls."
"You have emotions in it. You have the passion," said Western assistant coach Shalane Price, who took over head coaching duties for Latasha Townsend. "You've been practicing for this game. It's bragging rights. We have all year to say we beat them or they beat us. It's that type of game."
But the game nearly ended prematurely with the Doves (14-1 overall, 8-0 in Baltimore City's Div. I) ahead by four midway through the third.
The situation began when referees approached the scorers' table to check on the 30-second clock, which had inadvertently been reset. Within moments, the situation became heated, and Poly coach Kendall Peace-Able and Townsend both came onto the court.
With tensions already high after several hard fouls and non-calls, both benches soon cleared, and school police rushed onto the court in a bid to restore order.
Townsend then pulled her team off the court while emotions cooled, delaying the game for 12 minutes.
"It was just a miscommunication," said Price, who attempted to regain her players' focus after they crammed into a coaches' office to regroup. "We just talked about the Western tradition. We're women first, basketball players second. Just stay calm and let's play our game. We're strong enough to get through almost anything."
Poly (11-4, 5-2), however, hung tough. Led by senior Khepera Stokes (15 points), the Engineers pulled to within a point when freshman Jayna Lilly capped a 5-0 run by making one of two foul shots with 39 seconds left.
Just seconds later, however, Western's Jasmen Walton dove to a loose ball, grabbed it and quickly called a timeout, keeping the Doves in possession.
After foul shots on both sides gave Western a 43-41 lead, Western's Destiny Johnson scored a layup with just over a second to play to seal the win.
Poly--Galloway 6, Stokes 15, Curbeam 1, Lilly 7, Talley 4, Porter 6, Ford 2. Totals: 12 13-24 41.
Western--Pickens 15, Williams 9, Waters 5, Johnson 5, Walton 7, Walker 2, Faulkner 2. Totals: 15 13-38 45.
Half: Western, 18-17.