Literally and figuratively, playing against the Poly boys basketball team has been a tall order for its Baltimore City league opponents.
That was evident once again Tuesday, when the No. 1 Engineers’ size and skills overwhelmed No. 5 Edmondson at both ends of the floor.
Shooting guard Brandon Murray was the early catalyst with all of his 18 points coming in the first half, and senior forward Justin Lewis added 16 points to help lead the Engineers to a surprisingly comfortable 83-37 home win over the Red Storm.
Poly improved to 13-1 overall and 5-0 in Baltimore City, while Edmondson fell to 13-3 and 2-2 in league play.
In last year’s meeting, Murray hit a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to give the Engineers a 49-48 road win over the Red Storm.
On Tuesday, he and the Engineers got going much sooner. After surrendering the game’s first two points, they scored 17 straight, with Murray accounting for seven in the run. Murray also hit two 3-pointers early in the second quarter as the home team quickly pulled away.
With Lewis standing 6 feet 7, freshman Kwame Evans Jr. (11 points) coming in at 6-8, Murray at 6-4 and senior Ian Wallace coming off the bench at 6-7, the Engineers frustrated the smaller Red Storm with a dominant defense that often turned into dunks at the other end.
“We just knew we were going to pressure them,” Murray said. "We were just all locked in through warmups and we just put into our mindset that we weren’t losing this game.”
Enjoying a 48-22 halftime lead and then a running clock for most of the second half, the Engineers had 10 players score points.
“The number of wins [point guard] Rah [Ali], Justin, Ian and Brandon have together — the number of times they’ve played together — they have a real understanding of what high level basketball is and what they’re best basketball is,” Poly coach Sam Brand said. “And those guys are locked in on the defensive end together and know how it translates to offense. Then when we get to that end of the floor, they are all capable passers with high athleticism and skill sets. It’s been fun basketball to coach.”
The Red Storm, who got 12 points from Eontae Nelson and 10 from Quran Jones, will look to bounce back when they host Green Street Academy on Thursday. As for Tuesday, coach Darnell Dantzler gave credit to the Engineers.
“That’s a good team all the way around. They’re well-coached … they can flat out play and they just outplayed us today,” he said.
Poly travels to National Academy Foundation on Thursday and then meets No. 3 St. Frances on Saturday in a highly anticipated showdown at the William Wells Classic at Morgan State. Game time is set for 4 p.m.
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Murray is hoping for much of the same the rest of the season.
“I love having fun with my guys,” he said. “I think the chemistry this year is great. So it’s like when we’re out there playing basketball, we’re just hooping. It doesn’t matter who’s on or who’s off — it’s like the chemistry we’re just all clicking and it’s all good.”