TOWSON — Aberdeen’s bid for a spot in Saturday’s Class 3A girls basketball state championship game was derailed Thursday evening by the Engineers of Poly.
The Eagles (23-2) fell behind big, 19-3, through one quarter and despite playing the Engineers (22-4) fairly even in the second quarter, lost big, 65-27.
“Proud, regardless of what this outcome was, I’m proud of them,” Eagles coach Jimmia McCluskey said.
Poly junior guard Jada Gross scored 13 first-half points and finished with a team-high 18 points to lead the winners. Gross made five-of-six shots from the field, including going 2-for-2 from 3-point land and also had seven rebounds.
It was also Gross who banked in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first quarter.
Aberdeen, meanwhile, saw its two top scorers, seniors Anija Stancell (2 points) and Jaelyne DeVeaux (1 point), struggle. The two were a combined 0-for-25 from the floor.
“It was just an off day, shots weren’t falling,” Stancell said. Added DeVeaux “I just couldn’t finish today, I guess.”
The Engineers did have an advantage in height, but DeVeaux said that wasn’t an issue. “Height doesn’t phase me, I just couldn’t get to the basket,” she said.
As a team, the Eagles were 9-for-43 from the floor. Poly was 19-for-42.
Poly junior forward Dasia Townes had a pair of three-point plays early in the first quarter to assist in the Engineers’ big lead.
The Eagles played better in the second quarter with sophomore Cassandra Smith coming alive. Smith scored 10 of the Eagles 12 second-quarter points.
Poly, meanwhile, scored 13 in the quarter and led 32-15 at the half. Of the 13, 11 came from the free throw line where the Engineers attempted 16.
For the game, Poly went 23-for-32 from the stripe, while Aberdeen attempted just 13, making nine.
Poly then blew the game open with a 15-0 run to open the third quarter. Gross, Tenea Robinson (8 points) and Brashea Rice (11 points) each made a 3-pointer in the quarter.
Smith, the real lone bright spot for the Eagles, scored all four Aberdeen points in the quarter. Her first two came from the free throw line with under 2 minutes left in the quarter.
Smith (7-of-10 from the floor) led all scorers with a career-high 19 points and also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
“I just took my coach’s word when she told me to look at the basket,” Smith said.
Smith scored her final five points in the fourth quarter. Aberdeen scored eight.
“She waited, that’s what she did. She waited until the state semifinal game to decide to look at the basket,” Eagles coach McCluskey said.
An emotional Jae DeVeaux fouled out with 1:26 to play. Sister Tristyn DeVeaux (4 points), a junior, also fouled out with 38.6 seconds left.
Aberdeen was out rebounded, 40-24. The Eagles turned the ball over 26 times. Poly had 22 turnovers.
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