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2017-18 All-Metro boys basketball co-Coach of the Year: Sam Brand, Poly

Poly boys basketball coach Sam Brand receives the state championship trophy after the Engineers beat Milford Mill in the Class 3A state championship game at Xfinity Center in College Park in March.
Poly boys basketball coach Sam Brand receives the state championship trophy after the Engineers beat Milford Mill in the Class 3A state championship game at Xfinity Center in College Park in March. (Ulysses Munoz / Baltimore Sun)

Never known for its basketball prowess in mighty Baltimore City, Poly has emerged as a powerhouse to stay under Brand.

In his eighth season, Brand guided the No. 3 Engineers (22-6) to their third straight 20-win season along with a sweep of the Baltimore City Division I and Class 3A championships. It was the Engineers' second straight state crown.

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A 1999 Poly grad who went on to play and coach at Morgan State, Brand sets a self-described "insane" goal each season to be the best team in the country. With the quest came a demanding regular-season schedule that included perennial powers from Illinois and North Carolina in addition to top area private school foes St. Frances and John Carroll.

The tests helped the Engineers play their best ball at the most important time of the season. After grinding out a tough regular-season game at Dunbar to help secure a spot in the Baltimore City title game, they beat the Class 1A state champion Poets again for the program's second Baltimore City crown in three years. From there, the Engineers hit the road for the last three regional playoff games to win the South before capping the season with a 49-47 win over Milford Mill for the state crown.

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"To have those kind of battles and gone through them, it just guided us through the state tournament," said Brand, who is 137-63 in his eight seasons. "At all times, we believed we were going to win every game whether we were up or down. Our guys had been put through enough tests that we just felt it was going to work out for us, and we were really glad it did."

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