No. 1 Engineers fall to St. John’s (D.C.) in South Carolina; Murray finishes with 19

St. John’s reserve James Wood captures a rebound during Saturday evening’s Beach Ball Classic basketball quarterfinal with Poly. The Cadets from the District took control in the second half, handing the top-ranked Engineers their first loss, 62-56, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Poly High boys basketball got off to another strong start at the Beach Ball Classic Saturday evening. But unlike California’s Harvard Westlake, which didn’t overcome the No. 1 Engineers Friday, St. John’s College wasn’t phased.

The Cadets from the District handed Poly its first loss, 62-56, in the Beach Ball quarterfinals at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in South Carolina. Senior guard and Rhode Island University commit Isaiah Leggett scored a game-high 22 points for the Cadets (10-0 overall), and freshman Amani Hansberry finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Poly senior guard Brandon Murray led the way with 19 points and Marquette Univrsity recruit Justin Lewis added 13 points and six rebounds. It was the first loss in 20 games for the three-time reigning Class 3A state champs from Baltimore City, which opened Beach Ball play with a 56-46 victory over nationally-ranked Harvard Westlake Friday evening.

The Engineers (6-1), who led by as many as 22 points in the first half, established a nine-point lead (20-11) midway in the first half Saturday, but the Cadets rallied to claim a 27-26 advantage late. Poly got a three-pointer from Raymond English to take a 29-27 lead into halftime.

Tied at 38, St. John’s, ranked No. 3 in the District region behind national powers Paul VI (VA) and DeMatha Catholic by the Washington Post, went on an 8-0 run for a 46-38 lead with six minutes left in regulation. Murray pulled Poly to 52-47 with his trifecta with 2 minutes, 25 seconds to play.

Hansberry converted two free throws from St. John’s, and John Wilson stole the ball from Lewis and Leggett finished with a layup. Wilson converted a layup after a Poly miss for a 58-47 advantage with 1:24 left.

St. John’s shot nearly 70-percent (14-of-21) in the second half Saturday and dominated Poly in rebounding (30-19) and free throws (17-of-23 to 3-of-3). The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference squad also scored 40 points in the paint, compared to just eight for Poly.

The Engineers are off Sunday and will be back on the court Monday to play Arizona’s Millennium in the consolation semifinals.

Beach Ball Classic quarterfinals

at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Convention Center

St. John’s College (D.C.) 62, No. 1 Poly 56

Poly – Lyndsay 9, Lewis 13, Ali 8, Evans 2, Murray 19, English 5. Totals 21 3-3 56.

St. John’s – Wilson 7, Leggett 22, Hansberry 19, Square 4, Mack 3, Watson 3, Wood 4. Totals 22 17-23 62.

Poly 29 27 – 56

St. John’s 27 35 – 62