Alston, Poly top City, 40-35, for berth in city championship

Junior forward's key plays spark No. 7 Engineers to victory over No. 11 Knights

February 18, 2011|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

Poly forward Keli Alston struggled through most of Friday night's game at City, but she hit her stride just in time.

When the No. 7 Engineers needed their inside game to assert itself, the 6-foot junior scored two critical baskets and grabbed key rebounds to spark Poly to a 40-35 victory over No. 11 City. The win clinches a berth for Poly in the Baltimore City Division I title game.

Poly (15-5) finished 8-1 in the division while defending champion City (10-8), No. 8 Western and No. 10 Dunbar ended up tied at 7-2. Dunbar could have clinched a spot with a win over Digital Harbor on Friday, but the Rams pulled the upset, 52-48.

City athletics officials plan to sort out the tiebreaker Saturday to determine which team will play Poly for the title at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Baltimore City Community College. Each of those three has a 1-1 record against the other two.

For most of Friday's game, the Knights got the better of Poly in the paint, although they weren't getting many points for it. Midway through the fourth quarter with the score tied at 28, Alston hit a follow shot and then made a terrific back-door cut to take the feed from Blair Harding, putting the Engineers up 32-28 with 2:09 to go.

"[Alston] really did a nice job on the offensive boards, and they were some big baskets she scored. I think that turned the whole thing around," City coach George Petrides said.

The Engineers' only senior, 6-foot forward Imani Stokes, added a 3-point play, and Teira Pendleton hit two free throws to finish a 9-0 run that boosted the Engineers to a 37-28 lead with 53 seconds to go.

Alston scored five of her seven points and grabbed seven of her 12 rebounds in the fourth quarter.

She and the other Poly post players got off to a slow start against City's duo of 6-foot-1 players Chelsea Eldridge and Dominique Dawson, who combined for 19 rebounds but only eight points.

"We're afraid to get hit sometimes," Alston said. "We were a little intimidated because they had some big girls, but we had to win. We shook it off because we have to go to the city championship."

Both teams stayed in the game early thanks to their freshman guards. Poly's Jasmine Smith scored seven of her 10 points in the first quarter, and City's Dyzhanay Burton finished with a game-high 15.

Poly won its last city title in 1996 when its coach, Kendall Peace-Able, was an Engineers senior.

P—Crockett 2, Smith 10, Lee 3, Pendleton 4, Alston 7, Harding 9, Stokes 5. Totals 12-32 40.

C—Burton 15, Palmer 4, Eldridge 3, Dawson 5, Lee 6, Evans 2. Totals 10 13-24 35. Half: C, 20-19.

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