Poly boys basketball coach Sam Brand talks about the 63-46 win over Stephen Decatur in the Class 3A state semifinal. (Glenn Graham, Baltimore Sun video)
COLLEGE PARK — There was still 2:41 left in the first quarter when Poly sophomore forward Justin Lewis had a rim-rattling dunk in the No. 4 Engineers’ Class 3A state semifinal against Stephen Decatur on Thursday night.
The slam was a statement in itself, but the basket also meant that each of Poly’s five starters had already scored that early in the game.
It was clear from the start, player for player, the defending state champions simply had too much for the Seahawks from Worcester County.
All-Metro senior guard Demetrius Mims enjoyed the lead role, scoring 30 points in becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer, while Poly claimed a 63-46 win over Stephen Decatur at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center.
On Saturday, the Engineers (21-6) will return to College Park to take on No. 7 Milford Mill — a 68-59 winner over Thomas Johnson — for the state championship at 3 p.m.
For Mims, a four-year starter, passing 1996 graduate John McLean’s mark of 1,492 points was special, but there’s still more important business to tend to Saturday. He’ll take 1,498 points into the championship game.
“It’s been an unbelievable four years here playing at Poly,” he said. “I got young guys going to hold it down when I’m gone and I’m trying to go out with a ring with the seniors that are with me. So breaking the record, it meant a lot, but it doesn’t mean anything if I don’t end the season with a ring.”
While Mims was the catalyst at the offensive end, senior guard Cleveland Horton made a big difference on defense. The Seahawks (18-8) had a dominant go-to player in senior Kevon Voyles, who scored 38 points in their 60-51 win over Centennial for the East region title last Saturday and averaged 25 points per game this season.
He was kept in check by Horton, limited to 19 points on 6-for-20 shooting that included a 2-for-10 effort on 3-pointers. Horton’s tenacious defense wasn’t a surprise to Poly coach Sam Brand.
The dunk from Lewis gave the Engineers their first double-digit lead at 14-3, and it would grow to 38-19 at the half with Seth Jones, Ian Wallace and Rahim Ali all hitting 3-pointers at the end of the second quarter.
Mims put on a show to pad the lead in the third quarter, scoring 11 points, including two dunks and a 3-pointer as the advantage increased to 51-28 going into the fourth quarter.
The Engineers know a much tougher assignment will come against Milford Mill in Saturday’s bid for a second straight championship.
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“[Milford Mill] won a lot of games against a lot of really good teams,” Brand said. “They’re tough and I think they match up size-wise with us, athletically. They’re a high level team.
“A big part of playing against Milford Mill is we’re a battle-tested team and whatever the way the game seems to be going, I got confidence that these guys will give everything they have the whole way.”