By MARCUS HELTON & KYLE MCFADDEN
SALISBURY, MD - Last year, Poly boys’ basketball ripped through the MPSSAA Class 3A playoffs en route to the program’s first ever state title, winning five times by roughly 27 points a game.
De’Vondre Perry, who’s now Temple’s sixth man on the college basketball stage, put the Engineers on his back and lifted them to glory, and was named Mr. Basketball by the All-State selection committee as the most outstanding player in Maryland.
RELATED: GOVERNOR'S CHALLENGE DAY 1 NOTEBOOK
Since Perry’s out of the program, some may have doubted that the Engineers would play the same caliber of basketball as last year. Scary enough, through five games of the 2017-18 season, Poly (5-0) may be on a higher trajectory than the state title campaign capped in March.
On Wednesday night in a DMVelite Showcase Event at the Governor’s Challenge, Poly manhandled Riverdale Baptist – a top-tier team in the D.C.-area – 81-57.
Poly trailed by two after the first quarter, but stepped on the gas in the second quarter, outscoring the Crusaders 26-8 to lead by 16 at half.
The Engineers have won all five games by an average of roughly 25 points, including a 72-63 win against reigning Class 4A state champion Perry Hall on Dec. 13.
“Every game got purpose to us,” said Poly 2018 guard Demetrius Mims, who finished with 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting, five rebounds and three blocks. “We want to say we’ve improved.”
“We want to say we’re the best team in the country,” he added. “We’re not taking any game lightly … and that’s just the result.”
Poly is ranked as the top team in Baltimore by The Sun and widely considered as the top public school team in the state.
Mims, a 6-foot-5, Long Beach State-bound wing, has now taken on more of an alpha role. But even still, this Poly team seems to click smoother as one unit. Recent Calvert Hall transfer Justin Lewis, who posted a double-double Wednesday (15 points, 11 rebounds), is a 6-foot-8 forward and one of the top recruits in the Class of 2020.
Amani Walker (seven points, nine rebounds), a 6-foot-8 2019 center, and Cleveland Horton (five points, five assists), a 6-foot-1 2018 guard, both transferred into the program last year and are more comfortable as starters this winter. Additionally, 2020 point guard Rahim Ali (11 points, four rebounds) has a full year under his belt and 2018 guard Seth Jones (eight points, four rebounds) has elevated his role.
Not many public schools can say this, but Poly’s starting five are Division I recruits. Mims is committed to Long Beach State. Lewis holds nine Division I offers, including Georgetown. Ali said he has interest from Cincinnati, Connecticut and UNLV. Walker said UCF has contacted him and Horton is drawing interest from Mount St. Mary’s and Norfolk State, to go along with many Division II’s.
Ali, Horton and Walker have yet to receive an offer.
You can watch Poly played Olympic (N.C.) at 5 p.m. on Thursday at the Wicomico Civic and Youth and Center, as the Baltimore program looks to keep chugging full steam ahead.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to get judged by the final result of your season,” Poly coach Sam Brand said. “Last year’s team won the first ever state championship at Poly. [This year’s team] has a ways to go to be considered better.
“Do they have a chance to better? Yes. But not right now. I’m just grateful for that possibility, to even have the possibility to be better.” (KM)
WALKERSVILLE, JM BENNETT HEAD TO QUADRUPLE OVERTIME
After one Governor’s Challenge record happened Tuesday, another event-first took place on Wednesday. JM Bennett (Md.) and Walkersville (Md.) duked it out in the Salisbury Physical Therapy Bracket consolation game, and traded enough buckets to go into quadruple overtime, which had never happened before at the Governor’s Challenge.
The Lions led by as many as 12 in the second quarter, but the Clippers began to whittle away and climbed out of the deficit entirely when 2018 guard Montaze Jefferson (31 points, seven rebounds and five assists) canned a last-second 3-pointer to send the game to overtime at 54-54.
Walkersville 2018 guard Josh Polce (28 points and 15 rebounds) came through in the clutch down the stretch, producing game-tying and game-extending layups in overtime and double overtime and making the game-winning bucket in quadruple overtime. (KM)
OAKDALE'S SCHLEE DROPS 40
For Oakdale 2019 guard Collin Schlee, the buckets kept coming and coming.
In the first quarter against CH Flowers in the Delmarva Power Bracket title game, the junior had 11 of his team’s 15 points. By the midway point of the second quarter, that total climbed to 24, and he seemed destined for the event scoring record until he picked up his fourth foul with three minutes left until halftime.
Even with his presence in the bracket title game on life support, Schlee finished with 40 points on 14-for-19 shooting. He also added six steals in a gutsy performance.
With his team trailing late, Schlee produced seven points in the final minute to lift the Bears out of a late deficit: A 3-pointer to make it 63-62, a floater to make it 67-66 and a steal that led to two game-sealing free throws.
In the 73-55 win versus Randallstown (Md.) on Tuesday, the junior put up 22 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Schlee has interest from Bucknell and Mount St. Mary’s, but doesn’t have any offers. On the football field as a quarterback, he has interest from Marshall, Maryland and Syracuse. Schlee said he’s weighing options on both sports. (KM)
ORR SHINES AGAIN
A day after dropping a Governor’s Challenge record 44 points, Harford Christian (Md.) 2018 guard Derreck Orr saved his points for when his team needed them most.
Orr scored 15 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to lead the Eagles to the Bracket 5 Championship.
Orr started slow, shooting just 4-of-13 and 2-of-7 from 3-point range in the first quarter while tallying 11 points. The Eagles had just 17 points as a team, though, with no other player scoring more than two.
In the second half, Orr stopped forcing the action and his teammates stepped up, putting Orr in position to serve as the closer. He went 3-for-4 from 3-point range and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line to ice the victory. (MH)
POULSON DOMINATES SECOND HALF
Parkside 2018 forward Tyler Poulson had 29 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Rams over Parkside to victory in the Delmarva Power consolation game.
Poulson recorded 20 of his points and 9 of his rebounds it the second half, taking over down the stretch to help the Rams notch a split in this year’s Governor’s Challenge appearance.
A basketball and football standout, the 6-foot-2 Poulson transferred to Parkside this year after three years at Washington. (MH)
MORE DAY 2 STANDOUTS
Tyson Brown, Kempsville (VA) 2019 Guard
Jaquan Burton, Sussex Tech (DE) 2018 Guard
Jamier Felton, Indian River (DE) 2019 Guard
CorTrey Fontaine, Crisfield (MD) 2019 Guard
Teon Gardner, Edmondson-Westside 2018 Guard
Cornelius Hawkins, CH Flowers (MD) 2019 Forward
Ayinde Hikim, Wilson (DC) 2018 Guard
Cameron Isaacs, Randallstown (MD) 2018 Guard
Montaze Jefferson, JM Bennett (MD) 2018 Guard
Ricky Kane, Sussex Tech (DE) 2020 Guard
Elijah Lockhart, West Mecklenburg (NC) 2018 Center
Brock McCabe, Salisbury School (MD) 2018 Guard
Clarence Obiajulu, Concordia Prep (MD) 2021 Forward
Syncere Pickett, Mardela (MD) 2019 Guard
Eric Pilot, Laurel (DE) 2018 Guard
Kenneth Riley, Seed (DC), 2020 Guard
Phillip Rollins, Randallstown (MD) 2018 Forward
Dontrell Shuler, Legacy Early College (SC) 2018 Guard
Anthony Simmons, Seed (DC) 2020 Guard
Jaylen Smith, Nandua (VA) 2018 Guard
Dimingus Stevens, Wilson (DC) 2020 Guard
Donovann Toatley, Riverdale Baptist (MD) 2018 Guard
Khalih Williams, New Era Academy (MD) 2018 Forward
Sharone Wright, Legacy Early College (SC) 2018 Guard
Brook Anya, St. Andrews Episcopal (MD) 2019 Forward
Makenzie Crigger, Damascus (MD) 2019 Guard
Taleah Dixon, McDonogh (MD) 2018 Guard
Katie Gillick, Wootton (MD) 2018 Guard
Kendal Haggerty, Urbana (MD) 2018 Guard
Kayla Liles, McDonogh (MD) 2018 Guard
Mahlia McCoy, Kempsville (VA) 2019 Guard
Amaya Mumford, Stephen Decatur (MD) 2018 Forward
Aliya Rahman, Wootton (MD) 2018 Guard
Zy'Aire Smullen, JM Bennett (MD) 2020 Guard
Janiya Stevens, Sussex Tech (DE) 2019 Forward
Chelsea Thompson, Kempsville (VA) 2018 Guard