That was the emphatic message the Poly boys basketball team sent visiting Woodlawn in Thursday night's Class 3A North Section I final.
The host Engineers went into the game with greater incentive after they had a breakthrough 2015-16 season shockingly end with a playoff loss at Woodlawn. On Thursday, it showed at both ends of the floor as No. 4 Poly left with a dominant 72-45 win over the No. 8 Warriors that puts them in the 3A North region title game.
Poly improved to 18-7 to set up a road matchup with Dundalk Saturday — moving one step closer to a trip to the state tournament.
All-Metro senior forward De'Vondre Perry led the way at both ends with an incredible stat sheet: 20 points, 11 rebounds, nine blocked shots, five assists and three steals.
The Engineers also had balance with Demetrius Mims scoring 15 points and Cleveland Horton and Torrin Stephens scoring 12 each.
After falling behind early, 7-2, the home team scored 12 straight points and never looked back.
"My team started out slow, but we had high energy from the start. We knew how much this game meant to us, so we just had to come out and win it," Perry said. "Losing to them last year stayed with us for a while. I know it stayed with me personally, and I knew I wasn't going to feel better until we got them back."
Going into last year's playoff meeting at Woodlawn, the Engineers were fresh off the Baltimore City Division I championship and reached No. 1 in The Baltimore Sun's top 15 poll — both program firsts. On the same day they were anointed the area's top team — Feb. 29 — the Engineers fell behind fast against the Warriors and never recovered in falling, 78-66.
On Thursday, the Warriors (20-5) came to Poly with a largely new cast — senior standout Juwan Lane was the only starter back — that showed the same mettle in coming together to win 20 games.
Despite jumping out to the fast lead, Woodlawn proved no match for the more experienced and hungrier Engineers.
Perry had four blocked shots in the first quarter and the Engineers' trapping defense caused turnovers that turned into points. Freshman point guard Rahim Ali hit a 3-pointer and added a steal and layup while Horton added nine points in the first quarter. Horton's 3-pointer with 13 seconds left provided the Poly with its first double-digit advantage at 19-9.
The Warriors, who got 11 points each from Demauri Warren and Nijelh Redd, twice got within six points midway through the second quarter, but never any closer. Mims and Horton hit consecutive 3-pointers later in the quarter to help the Engineers keep a safe distance.
"We wanted a lot of revenge. We knew the importance of this game because we didn't want to go out the same way we did last year — it hurt a lot," Mims said.
Despite the big step forward, the Engineers know there's still plenty of work ahead to reach the ultimate goal of bringing home a state championship. Much like last year's valuable lesson learned from the loss to Woodlawn, they are banking on using their loss to No. 2 Patterson in this year's Baltimore City championship game as motivation.
"You can't take anything for granted. Last year, we go undefeated in the city and win the city championship and I feel like that we almost thought we could show up every game from then on and be the winner because of who we were," Poly coach Sam Brand said. "And we were good enough to be that way, but we got bit.
"And this year, we feel like we got bit in that city championship game. We didn't get our rhythm, weren't playing as a team and didn't have the energy that we normally have. We're really hopeful that that experience can lead us to finishing this thing off."