Unbeaten Westminster survived its first major scare of the season last night against an exceptionally quick Poly team in the championship game of the Poly girls tournament.
The Owls (7-0) needed a 16-2 run in the third quarter to open up a 14-point lead and hold off the hustling Engineers for a 63-53 victory.
Poly (5-3) had battled Westminster to a 25-25 tie early in the third quarter before the visitors went on the 16-2 tear to take command of the game.
The Engineers then used a full-court press most of the fourth quarter to create a lot of problems for Westminster, but tournament MVP Beth Lister and Cassandra Conklin came through with several big baskets down the stretch to help the Owls pick up the win.
Lister scored six points in the fourth quarter to finish with a team-high 20 points, and Conklin racked up 10 points in the final period to give her 14.
Conklin had to sit out most of the third quarter after collecting her fourth foul with 10 seconds gone in the third, but she came back strong in the fourth quarter.
Conklin had been held to just four points in the first half by the collapsing Poly defense and became more frustrated when she got called for her fourth foul.
"I didn't even know I had four fouls," said Conklin. "But it helped me sitting out the third quarter because I was able to watch the Poly defense and see what they were doing. I discovered where the openings were."
Conklin found almost all those openings as she drove to the basket and scored a series of layups and short jump shots.
Before Conklin came to the front, it was Lister and Jill Ibex doing most of the scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking for Westminster. Lister had 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots in addition to her 20 points.
Ibex had 12 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
Alyson Young also contributed a lot to the victory, scoring seven points during the 16-2 run.
Poly was led by the all-around play of Kelly Logan (21 points) and Jawai Maith (11 points).
The Engineers were also helped by the strong inside play of 6-foot center Lindsay Willemain and 5-10 forward Monica Harrison. Willemain and Harrison used their size to prevent Lister and Ibex from dominating inside.
In the end it was poor shooting that did Poly in, as the Engineers hit only 17 of 55 shots.
Westminster coach Bernie Koontz said: "Poly was a strong team and we learned a lot by playing against them. They have a lot of quickness and know how to press."
Poly coach Mark Sawyer said: "Their inside game was better than ours and they are more experienced. We're just a year away. All our players are juniors."
Sawyer said his team has been streaky all season and the same thing happened last night.
"We come out and tie the game right after halftime and then we TTC fall apart," he said. "Also, our press was not that effective at times. Once again, Westminster used their experience to beat us."
Lister said it took her a while to get used to the physical play inside by Poly's two big players, Willemain and Harrison.
"They were something else they way they used their bodies on me," said Lister. "One time I got the breath knocked out of me."