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Poly upsets No. 8 Western in VSN/Fox 45 Game of the Week

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Harding and Smith spark the Engineers' 50-42 triumph. (VIDEOS HIGHLIGHTS HERE!!)

Harding_SMithLast week against Digital Harbor, the No. 8 Western girls basketball team trailed by eight points with a little over one minute left before turning on the offense and knocking off the No. 5-ranked Rams.

On Friday afternoon against next door neighbor Poly, the Doves would need some late magic as they found themselves behind by eight points again in the fourth quarter.

The Engineers knew about Western’s comeback a few days ago and were determined to not let history repeat itself.  Behind junior Blair Harding and freshman point guard Jasmine Smith, Poly made critical plays down the stretch to spoil the Doves’ homecoming with a 50-42 upset in the latest edition of the VSN/Fox 45 Game of the Week.

“The biggest thing was using the shot clock. After watching how they played against Digital, Western doesn’t give up. They aren’t cut from the quitting cloth so if you want to win a game, you’ve got to put your foot down and keep turning it,” said Poly coach Kendall Peace-Abel.

Harding led the Engineers (5-4 overall, 3-0 Baltimore City Division I) with 11 points. Smith added nine points, including seven in the final six minutes of the game. Keri Dean also chipped in nine points.

Tenicia Spence paced Western (6-4, 2-1) with a game-high 16 points, while Taylor Carter added seven more.

Poly held a 41-33 advantage with 5:50 remaining in the game before Western turned on a full-court press in an effort to speed Poly up and force turnovers.

It worked as the Doves went on a 7-1 run over the next 4:40 minutes on buckets by Kelli Smoot, Raiya McKnight and Spence.  The spurt cut Western’s deficit to 42-40 with just over a minute to go.

The momentum had clearly swung in the favor of the home team but Poly, which starts two freshmen, played poised beyond their years.

After a missed layup, freshman forward Teira Pendleton grabbed the rebound, followed with a score and was fouled. She sank the free throw, giving the Engineers a little breathing room.  Then, Smith jumped into the passing lane, picked off a pass and was fouled.

The ninth grader sank the front end of the one-and-one and drained the second, moving her team’s lead to 47-40 with 49.7 seconds left.

“Basically, it’s just the thought of wanting to do it for my team and my coach,” said Smith.  “In the beginning I was [nervous] but as things started to settle down and got going into the second half, I sort of got things under control.”

Spence_LeeSmith won over a lot of people with her tough play down the stretch but her coach was especially pleased.

“She continues to amaze me," Peace-Able said of her freshman point guard.  “We haven't been together long, but it's going to be a happy marriage…She came to me as an elementary school kid, I used to teach her brother nine years ago and she told me, ‘hey, I’m coming to Poly.”

The Engineers put the game out of reach as Harding made a free throw and Smith made a pair of freebies to give Poly the upset.

“When we first walked in there, we noted that we wanted to win because we were tired of people disrespecting us as a team.  So that’s why we jumped on them from the beginning and just kept our heads in the game,” said Harding.  “Down the stretch is where it’s at.  Fourth quarter is crunch time and everybody knew that they had to show up.”

Poly jumped out to a quick 13-3 start in the first quarter but trailed 25-24 at the half.  In the third quarter, the Engineers held Western to just one field goal and six points to stretch their lead to 36-31 entering the final quarter.

“I’m not taking anything from Poly but we average 12 turnovers a game and we had 12 in the first half,” said Western coach Tiffany Silver.  “We missed 10 free throws in the first half.  Those are correctable errors but we didn’t correct them in the second half.  They didn’t control us missing free throws, we controlled us missing free throws.”


Poly 50, No. 8 Western 42
  1 2 3 4 F
Poly 16 8 12 14 50
Western 9 16 6 11 42
Lee 3, Dean 9, Pitts 5, Crokett 6, Harding 11, Smith 9, Pendleton 5, Stokes 2. Totals 18 10-20 50.
Murray 6, Spence 16, Smoot 5, Booth 1, McKnight 5, Carter 7, Jackson 2. Totals 12 15-30 42.

Last Updated (Saturday, 15 January 2011 08:24)




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