Western senior forward JJ Williams had 12 points and eight rebounds in the No. 4 Doves’ 61-51 win over No. 9 Poly for the Baltimore City Division I girls basketball championship Tuesday night. (Katherine Dunn, Baltimore Sun video)
Every win over Poly means something to archrival Western, but when it's for a championship, that's a different ballgame.
The No. 5 Doves finished off their third victory this season over the No. 9 Engineers, 61-51, Tuesday night for the Baltimore City Division I girls basketball championship at Baltimore City Community College.
Western (20-1) shook off a strong opening by the two-time defending champion Engineers to win their first city title since 2011.
"It means everything," said Western senior forward J.J. Williams, who had 12 points and eight rebounds. "It shows that we put in the work. We progressed as a team, wins, losses, everything. We made it. We set a goal and we made it."
Jasmen Walton led the Doves with 18 points, including three 3-pointers as Western hit eight 3-pointers among their 18 field goals.
Walton, a sophomore scored five of her points in an 11-3 third-quarter run that boosted Western's lead to 47-37 with 4:32 left — just enough of a lead to keep it the rest of the way.
The Doves led 48-41 going into the final quarter, but Poly (17-5) staged a comeback, pulling to within 50-49 on back-to-back driving layups from Khepera Stokes.
"I had to tell them to use the clock. We were just rushing," Western coach Tasha Townsend said. "When we were rushing, a lot of times we turned the ball over and they got back quick like they were supposed to, so I just told them, 'Look, we're in the lead. You've got to pace yourself, take your time and let's take advantage of the clock. You don't have to rush.'"
The Doves settled down for the rest of the game as Walton fed Cache' Waters for a 3-pointer and Destiny Johnson scored a transition basket to boost the lead to 55-49.
Stokes, who finished with 18 points, hit a 15-footer to cut the lead to 55-51 with 2:09 left, but the Engineers got no closer.
The Doves have won four of the last five meetings with Poly, but this was the first one for a title. They won both regular-season games, but only by an average of seven points.
Early on, the Engineers looked as if they might turn things around, running up a nine-point lead in the first half, taking an 18-10 edge into the second quarter, but the Doves quickly rebounded, tying the game at 20 after Williams hit a follow shot and Waters hit a 3-pointer.
"It was more nerves than anything," Williams said of the slow start. "We have a young team, so I think the main city championship, it worked us up a little bit, but halftime, once we got them out of the way, we were fine."
Poly's Deierra Weems answered a 3-pointer by with one of her won, but Walton hit another one for Western to tie at 23 with 4:29 to go in the second quarter.
In a half that featured 12 3-pointers, Poly then took off on an 8-0 run capped by Jazmine Talley's 3-pointer for a 31-23 lead with 2:43 left in the quarter.