Highlights of City-New Town and Poly-Franklin girls at the Basketball Academy Jan. 11, 2018. (Katherine Dunn, Baltimore Sun video)
Poly’s girls basketball team went through some growing pains last season with a lot of freshmen and sophomores. Now coach Kendall Peace-Able is seeing a much more mature team.
At Thursday’s 22nd annual Baltimore City Public Schools Basketball Academy at Morgan State’s Hill Field House, the Engineers had little trouble in a 55-28 win over Franklin.
“They’re having fun, so I think that’s the biggest thing,” Peace-Able said. “They were young last year. They experienced a lot of hard games. The Keough game was hard early. Some of our holiday tournaments were hard early, so they’re kind of coming into their own. They know what to expect. They’re growing up.”
Junior Janya Lilly scored 16 and sophomore Dasia Townes added 12 points as Poly ran out to a 15-4 lead and cruised from there. The Engineers, who have lost only to No. 3 Roland Park, improved to 6-1.
Against Franklin, which has a couple of strong junior guards in Dominique Doss and Ayana Booze, the Engineers were just too quick all around. They forced a lot of turnovers and rolled up the transition points.
After the Indians (4-4) got the opening basket from Celina Polson, Poly went on a 15-2 run capped by a follow shot from Gianni Jones and a 3-pointer from Townes. Doss cut the Engineers’ lead to 15-7 with a 3-pointer to end the first quarter.
Townes opened the second quarter with a short jumper and Dynajah Glenn scored off a steal for a 19-7 lead. The Indians would not get closer than within eight the rest of the quarter and by the end of the third quarter, the Engineers’ speed and depth had taken a toll as they pushed their lead to 20.
”They were very athletic,” Doss said of the Engineers. “They got back on defense, but they were just very tough. They didn’t take any plays off.”
Poly’s victory made it 2-0 for Baltimore City girls teams over Baltimore County teams on the opening day of the three-day Basketball Academy. City won Thursday’s first game, 56-37, against New Town.
Although City had the game well in hand by then, the defending Class 2A state champion Titans had to play the final minute with just four players on the court after two starters fouled out and another player got hurt.
The Knights (6-2) broke open a six-point game with a 10-0 run that gave them a 35-19 lead with 4:25 left in the third quarter. Led by 16 points from Mya Henson, City took advantage of the Titans’ lack of guards and kept pressure on the ballhandlers.
“This game is tough, playing without guards who can bring the ball up the court,” New Town coach Richard Hibbert said. “I trust my bigs to do it. I believe everybody on my team can dribble, but it shows when we try to facilitate our offense. When we try to run our offense, when we try to do the things we want to do, it’s tough when the girl who’s not naturally playing that position to be put in position to see the court when she’s used to setting screens herself or posting up.”
Hibbert didn’t want to use the missing players as an excuse, especially because his team missed 19 free throws that would have made up the difference. In the first half, they shot 21 but hit just seven. Mykiah Ross, who led the Titans with 17 points, scored nine at the free-throw line.
The Knights also had players in foul trouble, but they hit twice as many field goals as the Titans (5-4) and had strong contributions off the bench as eight players scored. Raquel Nicholson scored nine and Jasmine Gardner added eight off the bench.
All four teams will be back in action Saturday at Morgan State as the Titans meet No. 5 Western at 10 a.m., the Knights play Mount Carmel at 11:15 a.m. and the Engineers face Franklin at 12:30 p.m. In Friday’s only girls game, Western plays Mount Carmel at 3 p.m.