Consistent was the word Southern coach Meredith Smith used when speaking of his team's early-season play. Yesterday, the No. 2 Bulldogs turned back visiting and No. 12 Poly, 65-44, in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division II game.
The victory improved Southern's overall record to 3-2 (3-0 in division).
The Bulldogs' two losses came Dec. 7 and 8 in the Nike Kenner Tip-Off Classic to Washington's Dunbar (60-54 in overtime) and Coolidge (64-62), both ranked highly in The Washington Post's top 20.
"It was going to be difficult playing those two top-notch teams," said Smith, "but we showed we can play with the best in the country."
Southern used an effective full-court press in those games, and yesterday the Bulldogs' defense again was a factor, shutting down Tony Jenkins, leading scorer for Poly (3-2, 1-2). Jenkins, who came in averaging 18.8 points, was shut out in the second half and finished with nine points.
"He has to score for us," said Bucky Kimmett, coach of Poly, which was led by 15 points from Ian Smith. "We wanted to play a half-court game, but Southern's defense forces you to do things you're not accustomed to."
Che Evans had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Southern. His brother, Kwame, added 13, as did John Salley, who pulled down 12 rebounds.
"We have to execute defensively with our pressure, because it turns into points on offense," Smith said.
Leading, 13-12, after the first quarter and by 30-22 at halftime, the Bulldogs outscored the Engineers, 14-5, in the third period to lead, 44-27. Evans and Salley combined for 12 of Southern's 14 third-quarter points.
After Poly scored the first five points of the fourth period to pull within 44-32, Southern went on a 9-2 run, to expand the margin to 53-34 with 4 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.
"So far, we've been playing consistently on offense and defense," said Smith. "If we continue doing that, we'll be successful."