No. 3 Poly gets past Western in Baltimore City girls basketball final rematch; Townes sparks closing push (VIDEO HERE!)
by Derek Toney
Poly High girls basketball coach Kendall Peace-Able wanted to her team to throw the proverbial first punch in Thursday’s match with Western. The third-ranked Engineers did just that, but spent most of the final three quarters trying to shake the Doves.
Poly finally got the decisive blow, courtesy of Dasia Townes. The Engineers pulled away for a 74-65 victory over the No. 5 Doves inside Augie Waibel Gym in Northwest Baltimore.
Tenea Robinson scored 20 points for Poly (6-1 overall) and Da’Brya Clark added 18. Mya Henson led Western (5-2) with 17 points.
Townes, a senior wing bound to Virginia Commonwealth University, scored seven of her 15 points in the fourth quarter. The Engineers, the two-time reigning city champs, also went 17-of-20 from the free throw line in the final frame to clinch victory in their first major local challenge of the season.
“I’m not really a selfish player,” said Townes. “I look for my teammate before I look for myself.”
With Poly nursing a 52-51 lead, Townes found senior post Ajae Petty inside for a basket early in the fourth quarter. The Doves got back to within one at 55-54, but Townes drained a three-pointer starting a 9-0 run, pushing Poly’s lead to 64-54.
Longtime Poly coach Kendall Peace-Able was pleased to see Townes, who’s been sick most of the week, raise her level.
“If I picked anyone to respond in high pressure situations, it’d be her,” said Peace-Able. “We got to do better in not allowing it to be a pressure situation.”
Poly followed Peace’s wishes, racing out to a 17-9 advantage. The Engineers led 39-29 late in the half before Western sliced it to 39-33 after Cami Urqhart’s putback’s before the halftime buzzer.
The Doves stayed on Poly’s heels behind outside shooting, including a Sanaya Gray three-pointer to close to 52-51 with 7 minutes, 18 seconds left in regulation. Townes got the ball in a perfect spot for Petty to finish in the paint.
Petty, an LSU recruit, had 12 points and five rebounds in her first game. The 6-foot-1 post transferred from Institute of Notre Dame last month.
“It feels good to play with players I’ve been wanting to play with,” said Petty, whose play on the AAU summer circuit with Columbia-based Power Move attracted several major Division I programs. “As far as chemistry, everything can improve but we all know each other and watch each other play. Everyone’s willing to learn and adapt to each other.”
Gray finished with 16 points for Western, which went more than four minutes without a field goal after closing to 55-54 in the fourth. Sophomore guard Gabrielle Johnson had 11 points.
Doves coach Kenneth Robinson thought his squad’s inexperience showed in the final eight minutes Thursday.
“We’ll grow from this,” said Robinson. “They (Poly) knew what to do in certain moments of the game that my young team didn’t know what to do. We panicked.”
Peace-Able said Poly hasn’t found its “rhythm,” which is expected in the opening month. The Engineers’ only loss so far came against nationally-ranked Riverdale Baptist School at the Stars and Stripes Salute mixer at New Town two weeks ago.
Poly, which has been to six of the last seven Class 3A state final fours, wants to capture its first state championship this season.
“Every year we’ve gotten a little farther, so this year is the year,” said Townes, whose team lost to Frederick in last year’s state final. “We’re not accepting nothing less.”
No. 3 Poly 74, No. 5 Western 65
Western – Gray 16, Johnson 11, Pryor 15, Henson 17, Urqhart 2, Mills 2, Jenkins 2.
Poly – Wilson 5, Clark 18, Robinson 20, Petty 12, Townes 15, Fullwood 2, Ferguson 2.
Western 12 21 15 17 – 65
Poly 19 20 11 24 – 74