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Poly girls win ugly 3A East section final over Mount Hebron, 40-17

Poly's Jayda Pearson, here in a December game vs. City, scored 13 points win the No. 6 Engineers' win over Centennial.
Poly's Jayda Pearson, here in a December game vs. City, scored 13 points win the No. 6 Engineers' win over Centennial. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Somedays, the way a basketball team plays does not have to be pretty. It just has to be motivated enough to get the job done.

Visiting Poly (22-3) used a suffocating defense and a timely offense to break a 9-9 halftime tie and outscore Mount Hebron, 11-4, in the third quarter en route to a 40-17 victory over the Vikings (20-4) in a Class 3A East sectional final.

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The No. 6 Engineers will host No. 7 Atholton, a 55-23 winner over Glenelg in the other sectional final, on Monday.

Jayda Pearson led Poly with 13 points, followed by Aneah Young's 12. Nia Crump led the Vikings with nine points.

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"We are known for our defense at Poly, and that's what wins championships," Pearson said. "We had to pull it together and pick it up [in the second half]. We told ourselves it was 0-0 and we needed to stay aggressive."

The game didn't start off looking like a playoff game. The Engineers , got good looks at the basket on many trips down the court, but failing to convert layups. The defense, a combination of zones and man-to-man, kept Poly in the game, but so did the Mount Hebron offense. The Vikings, who had averaged 58 points a game, were held to just nine points due in large part to poor shooting.

After being tied at halftime, the Engineers scored the first seven points of the second half on layups by Khepera Stokes and Young and a 3-pointer by Pearson to take a 16-9 lead. After a layup by Crump, the Engineers got another three by Pearson and a free throw by Porter to give the team a 20-11 lead.

"During halftime, coach told us that a team is always most vulnerable in the first three minutes of the second half," Crump said. "He told us to come out and make a statement, but it was Poly that did that. Give them all the credit."

The Engineers, who held the Vikings to only eight points in the second half, went on a 20-4 run in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

"We've been off for five days, so it did look a little rough," Poly coach Kendall Peace-Able said. "I guarantee you that most of the teams in the state tournament will look a lot better next week than they did today. In the first half, we were getting the looks we wanted, but the shots were rimming and rolling out. We were getting those looks in the second half, and the muscle memory took over and the shots started falling."

Poly advanced to the state semifinals last year, but that was a very different team.

"I seem to have the curse and the blessing at Poly of having lots of seniors and having no seniors," Peace-Able said. "This is a really young team, but they seem to be settling in fine. They have the commitment and desire, and they buy in to what we are doing. It's a great group of kids."

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