COLLEGE PARK, MD - Their celebration seemed a bit more subdued than the previous two, but that may have just been because victory was a forgone conclusion for much of the previous 32 minutes.
Poly jumped out to an early lead and never looked back en route to their third straight Maryland 3A state championship, downing Reservoir 69-41 at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center on Saturday. It made the Engineers the first program in state history to earn three consecutive 3A crowns.
2020 forward Brandon Murray had 17 points to lead the Engineers, while 2020 guard Rahim Ali had 16 points and 5 assists and 2019 forward Amani Walker 12 points.
“I think we’re different,” Poly coach Sam Brand said. “I told these guys in the pregame speech - which I get really excited to give - that we’re different, and we’ve established ourselves from the beginning of our program - even when we weren’t winning state championships - as what I’d like to think are people that are more committed to what we’re saying we’re going to do than saying it itself.”
The Engineers (22-5) seem primed to make a run at four titles, as they are slated to return four starters.
Reservoir was making its first state title appearance in school history, and quickly found itself in trouble against the Engineers. Poly led 14-2 after one quarter and 39-20 at the break.
Gators coach Michael Coughlan called Poly, “Just an absolutely phenomenal high school basketball team,” and said the Engineers’ length and physicality really bothered them.
“We talked - and I should have emphasized it more - but we were getting in the lane, but trying to finish against that size, we’ve got to get some kickouts,” he said. “And then when you’re not hitting shots - we were 1-from-18 from 3, and I knew we would have to hit shots to even have a chance, and we weren’t. To me, their defense was the most impressive thing. I pride us on doing it, and their physicality, their length - just everything that they took us out of - I was very impressed with.”
2019 forward Josh Odunowo had 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead Reservoir. The loss capped an 18-9 season for the Gators, who jumpstarted it by winning the 2018 DMVelite Fall League.
“We ended up winning that Fall League, and that was encouraging because we were actually missing a lot of the kids and it was a lot of the younger kids,” Coughlan said. “… but it was very encouraging at your league, and I knew the group would come together. It just came together at the right time at the end of the season, for sure.”