Poly gets payback, eliminates No. 9 Woodlawn in 3A North boys' hoops semifinals; Perry scores 20 (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE!!)
After his team's victory over Woodlawn High in the Class 3A North Region boys' basketball semifinal Thursday, Poly coach Sam Brand was asked how long did it take him to get over last year's loss to the Warriors.
"About three minutes ago," he said. "That's not an exaggeration."
The No. 4 Engineers' 72-45 rout of the No. 8 Warriors inside Augie Waibel Gym in northeast Baltimore may not erase the sting of last year's disappointing early playoff exit. The only remedy for that is a state championship which Poly took another step towards with a dominating showing.
Temple University commit DeVondre Perry had a game-high 20 points with 11 rebounds and nine blocked shots for the Engineers (18-7 overall), and junior Demetrius Mims finished with 15. Junior Demauri Warren and Nijelh Redd each had 11 points to lead to Woodlawn (20-5).
The Engineers overcame an early deficit to advance Saturday's region final at No. 20 Dundalk, which eliminated Edgewood in a 3A Sweet 16 match Thursday in Baltimore County. It'll be the first state Elite Eight for Poly since 2013 when it reached the 4A state final four.
A trip to the University of Maryland appeared to be a forgone conclusion last year for the Engineers. The Cold Spring Lane school won its first Baltimore City title and reached the No. 1 spot in VSN Top 20 for the first time.
It didn't matter to Woodlawn, which put Poly in a 17-point halftime hole in a North quarterfinal in Baltimore County. The Warriors withstood a furious second half Engineer rally for a 78-66 victory.
"It stayed with me until a few minutes ago," said Perry. "...That loss motivated us, made us got harder in the gym everyday."
Last year, the Engineers were gasping early as Woodlawn surged out to a 14-4 first quarter lead. The Warriors got off to a promising start at 7-2 Thursday, but Poly answered with a 12-0 run and methodically overwhelmed them with its defensive pressure and transition attack.
"The early start wasn't encouraging, but there was something about our energy," said Brand. "I know when our energy is on and I could tell it was on from the jump."
Without Perry, arguably the area's top senior not producing a field goal, Poly built a 33-20 halftime advantage. The Engineers got an early lift from newcomers Cleveland Horton and freshman point guard Raheem Ali, who combined for 12 points in the opening eight.
Ali hit a 3-pointer and added a steal and layup while Horton added nine points, including a 3-pointer late in the frame, putting Poly up 19-9. Horton and senior Torin Stephens each finished with 11.
"We applied a lot of pressure at the beginning," said Horton.
Woodlawn was able to get within six in the second quarter, but no closer. With Jamal Lane the lone starter back from last season's squad, the Warriors didn't have experience to match a determined and fully engaged Poly.
"Poly had a chip on its shoulder," said Woodlawn coach Bobby Richardson, whose team lost to eventual state champ C. Milton Wright in the North final on Woodlawn Drive. "Last year, they [Poly] were the bully that got punched in the mouth. This year, they flipped the script and played well."
"This game isn't about me, this program isn't about me, but I told them this game was important me," said Brand, a former standout at Poly and Morgan State University who's taken his alma-mater to new heights. "I couldn't barely say Woodlawn over the past year and I have great respect for Coach Richardson and his staff, but it was a rough one for me last year."
The Engineers' road to redemption heads to Dundalk, which will seek its first state final four appearance. In 2013, Poly went to Montgomery County's Paint Branch and won its first region championship.
Brand thinks losing the city title game to Patterson a couple of weeks ago provided Poly added incentive.
"We didn't get our rhythm, weren't playing as a team and didn't have the energy that we normally have," said Brand. "We're really hopeful that that experience can lead us to finishing this thing off."
"We know what we have to do. We know the only way we lose if we beat ourselves because we have all the pieces," said Perry. "As long as we play together and have high energy, the game is ours. But we have to stay humble and play our basketball."
Class 3A North Region Section I final
No. 4 Poly 72, No. 8 Woodlawn 45
Woodlawn - Warren 11, Lane 5, Redd 11, Rice 2, Garrison 2, Brinkley 6, Gannon 3, Parks 2, Campbell 1, Smith 2. Totals 14 16-23 45
Poly - Perry 20, Mims 15, Ali 5, Stephens 12, Horton 12, Jones 5, Wallace 3.
Woodlawn 9 11 12 13 - 45
Poly 19 14 17 22 - 72
Last Updated (Wednesday, 15 March 2017 08:19)