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Ny’Ceara Pryor and Gabby Johnson lift No. 8 Western girls basketball to statement win over No. 2 Poly, 63-53

Western’s Ny’Ceara Pryor and Gabby Johnson know there’s no tomorrow when it comes to their high school girls basketball careers. It’s now or never for the two senior guards, who are the go-to players for the No. 8 Doves.

Friday evening at No. 2 Poly (3-1), they made sure their presence was felt in a huge game for Baltimore City bragging rights. Pryor scored 32 points and Pryor added 22 to lead the Doves (4-1) to a 63-53 victory.

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Western led the whole game but needed to hold off a furious rally by the Engineers late in the fourth quarter. The win was also the first over Poly for both Johnson and Pryor, both of whom have played on varsity since their freshman year.

“They complement each other so well,” Western coach Tasha Townsend said. “They are kind of the engine that drives us. I let them balance each other out.

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Johnson said that coming out with fire the way the Doves did was a big factor.

“It was clutch that we hit our shots early,” the senior said. “We haven’t really played since the middle of December [because of COVID], so it took some of the rust away.”

The Doves, behind 13 first-quarter points by Johnson, sprinted out to an 18-4 lead with 2:04 left in the quarter, and it looked like the rout was on. Much to Poly’s credit, the Engineers clawed back into the game.

After scoring the first six points of the second half, Poly cut the lead to 32-27 on a Trinity Massenburg layup with 6:25 left in the third quarter. After that, it was Western’s turn again. The Doves went on a 7-0 run to extend the advantage to 40-27 with 3:35 left, with seven of the eight points by Pryor and one by Maya Gray.

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After scoring the first basket of the third quarter, Western had a 15-point lead at 49-34 with 7:38 left. Then Poly went to work.

The Engineers went on a 13-5 run early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 54-47, but Western answered. After Poly started fouling, the Doves got crucial free throws by Pryor and Johnson to again take a 10-point lead, 57-47, with 1:39 left.

Gray hit consecutive 3-pointers on the Engineers’ next two possessions to cut the lead to 57-53 with 1:19 left, but that was as close as the home team would get.

Pryor and Johnson are the unquestioned leaders of the team, and they have set the bar high for the Doves. According to both, it’s the state title or bust.

“We thought we had the team last year, but there wasn’t a season,” Johnson said. “This is another step for us, but its not the one we want. We want a state championship.”

Pryor agrees with her teammate.

“This was big, but we can’t dwell on one game,” Pryor said. “We just want to let everyone know that Western is back, and nothing, including [coronavirus] can stop us.”

Western 63, Poly 53

W – Johnson 22, Pryor 32, Hammond 3, Coit 3, Gray 1, McMurray 2. Totals: 21 19-33 63.

P – Clark 21, Holiday 2, Johnson 5, Lowry 4, Massenburg 12, Addison 4, Makumi 5. Totals: 20 7-15 53. Halftime: W, 32-21.

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