In practice Tuesday, City's Danyelle Brown sank 12 straight free throws, so when she stepped to the foul line late in yesterday's hotly contested Baltimore City championship game, she was confident.
Brown hit three of four free throws in the final 1:19 to seal the Knights' first city girls basketball title, 54-51, over No. 20 Dunbar.
"Normally, I shoot free throws pretty well, so I just tried to calm down and stick to my normal routine," said Brown, a 5-foot-9 senior center. "I wasn't nervous."
The No. 18 Knights' victory also ended an 84-game Poets home win streak.
Brown found it easy to understand why the Poets, who have won four straight state championships, have been so tough to beat at home.
"You come in here and you have to be impressed. I saw all their banners. This is a basketball powerhouse," she said.
Nevertheless, the Knights (19-2) were not intimidated. After all, they had already beaten Dunbar (14-8) once this season - 34-33 at City.
Yesterday, in a game that featured 13 lead changes, City tied it at 51 when Amanda Burroughs banked in a follow shot with 2:12 left in the game.
Brown, who had gone 1-for-3 from the line previously, hit the second of two free throws to give the Knights a 52-51 edge with 1:19 on the clock.
The Poets turned over the ball twice before Brown stepped to the line again with 31.1 seconds to go. She nailed both shots.
With City up by three, the Poets had two chances to tie. Jasmine Williams tried a three-pointer from the corner with 16 seconds left, but City's Ebony Smith blocked the shot. Brown snatched the rebound.
City coach George Petrides called time with 14.5 seconds left, but the Knights turned over the ball on the inbound pass, going a little too long for Brown on the break.
With 14 seconds remaining, Nikina Hill brought the ball up court for the Poets. She got an open look from the top of the circle and fired a 20-footer that rimmed out. Brown grabbed the rebound.
Hill said she got the shot the Poets wanted.
"If I wasn't open, I was going to look for one of my seniors if they were open," said Hill, "but I had the shot, and I knew it could tie it up and go into overtime."
But Brown's free throws and her final two rebounds assured that the Knights would be celebrating at the end of regulation.
Brown, who came off the bench when 6-0 Ashley Branch picked up two fouls in the first quarter, finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Burroughs had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Despite those impressive stats, the Knights have continued to play a tight team game. Smith, Madea Bailey, Alanna Ingram, Brandi Matthews and Kimberly Champ also made valuable contributions.
"It's been a team effort all the way," said Petrides. "We don't have any outstanding scorer. We don't have one person that does it all. It's been a team effort the whole year."
The Poets got 17 points and 12 rebounds from Ashley Gladden. Jaquanna Henderson added 14 points, 12 on free throws.
Both teams continue their seasons next week in the regional playoffs. The Knights will go after another first - a state Class 2A crown. They won't have to meet Dunbar again as the Poets go for another Class 1A title.