No. 9 Western handles campus-mate Poly, 60-52 (VIDEO HERE!!)

Western’s Destiney Johnson nabs a defensive rebound during the second half of Tuesday’s Baltimore City Division I girls’ basketball contest with Poly. The No. 9 Doves claimed sole possession of first with a 60-52 victory on Falls Road.

by Nelson Coffin

In what is at the very least a unique situation, the coed Baltimore Poly Institute and the all-girls Western High School share a building on a campus on Falls Road in North Baltimore where the students do not share classes, a cafeteria or a gymnasium.

Which means when the girls basketball teams play each other, a “road trip” really means that one team has to travel about 30 yards to reach the opposing team’s court.

Naturally, bragging rights go to the winner of the neighborhood battle, although Western star guard/forward Jasmen Walton said that she would not call the game a rivalry after the No. 9 Doves prevailed, 60-52, over the fifth-ranked Engineers on Tuesday evening.

“It’s more like a competition,” said the senior, who put her team ahead for good on a three-point play late in the third quarter and finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists to help her team move to 12-3 overall and remain flawless in Baltimore City Division I play. “They give us the most competition of any team in the City.”

Walton also finished drives on the last play of the third quarter and the first play of the final period before coaxing in a soft turnaround jumper in the paint to give her team a 46-38 advantage with about four minutes remaining in regulation.

After Western senior guard Makayla Pickens nailed two free throws, Walton upped the lead to 50-38 on an 8-foot baseline jumper.

“In the beginning, Jasmen was trying to get all of her teammates involved, which is what she always does,” Western coach Tasha Townsend said. “But then I told her it was time (for her to start scoring). I told the team it was time to finish them (Poly).”

Makenzie Pollard (17 points and 7 rebounds) had the hot hand early for the Doves as they built an 11-2 lead less than three minutes after the opening tipoff.

The senior small forward buried two three-pointers and an old-school hook shot during the spree that forced Poly coach Kendall Peace-Able to call a timeout.

It still took the Engineers (11-4 overall), who suffered their first league defeat of the season, a while to regain their composure after Western’s opening salvo knocked them back on their heels.

Slowly but surely, though, Poly showed some fight by going on a 10-1 run to close the first half after some fine work on the offensive boards for a pair of put-backs by sophomore guard Dasia Townes, who led all scorers with 20 points.

A jumper by Poly sophomore guard Jada Gross and three-of-four free throws by Townes had the Engineers only trailing, 25-22, at the intermission.

Poly kept rallying in the third quarter and finally inched ahead, 33-32, on a Townes three-ball from the top of the key with just over four minutes to go in the period.

After the Engineers fell behind on two free throws by Pollard and one by freshman guard Vashae Rideout, Poly sophomore guard Taijah Ridgeway knotted it up again by converting two shots from the line.

And that’s when, in essence, Walton took over the game.

Senior Jasmine Walton was again the spark for Western, scoring 17 points Tuesday. The two-time defending city champ Doves now have a clear path to next month’s city title game.

“Our energy went down, but it came back up in the fourth quarter,” Walton said. “I had a mismatch, so I took advantage of it.”

With four games against league opponents left, the two-time defending champion Doves earned a spot in the City title game against an opponent yet to be determined.

Poly also has four games remaining, all at home, beginning with Edmondson-Westside on Friday evening.

No. 9 WESTERN 60, No. 5 POLY 52
BPI 9 13 14 16 — 52
WHS 16 9 17 18 — 60
POLY: Cache’ Wilson 4, Jada Gross 7, Dynajah Glenn 4, Dasia Townes 20, Taijah Ridgeway 10, Brashae Rice 3, Gianna Jones 1, Tenea Robinson 3. TOTALS: 15 19-36 52.
WESTERN: Jasmen Walton 17, Makenzie Pollard 17, Makayla Pickens 9, Vashae Rideout 5, Tykeara Burden 4, Destiny Johnson 7, Destiny Hawkins 1. TOTALS: 22 14-26 60.