Wolverines’ comeback falls just a point short
BALTIMORE POLY 64, POTOMAC 63
Potomac guard Gary Robertson shook free in front of his team’s bench, flicked a shot toward the rim and watched it fall through the net.
It pulled the Wolverines within one point and sent their fans into a frenzy. Robertson jumped up and down while yelling at his teammates to press up. But there was only 4.2 seconds left on the clock, and all Baltimore Poly had to do was stand behind the baseline with the ball as time ticked away to zero.
The ball was never inbounded, and Potomac’s title run ended in a 64-63 loss to the Engineers in the Maryland 3A boys championship Saturday.
Baltimore Poly’s De’Vondre Perry led all scorers with 23 points and also notched 16 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. The Wolverines were led by 16 points from Ryle Burley and 14 from Robertson, but a fierce comeback fell one point short at Xfinity Center on the University of Maryland campus.
“Just getting to this point just shows how strong we are as a team and that nothing can really stop us,” said senior forward Christian Dyches, adding that the Wolverines’ season was one filled with adversity.
“I’m just so proud of my team,” Dyches said. “I love everybody, and that was a great season.”
Potomac (18-7) started the game in a 3-2 zone, and Baltimore Poly (22-7) slowly worked the ball around to get high-percentage shots. The methodical ball movement usually ended with Perry — who led all scorers at halftime with 14 points — as the forward paced the Engineers’ offense from the perimeter and in the post.
The game then shifted when the Wolverines switched to a man-to-man defense after the break. Now there was a defender shadowing Perry wherever he went, and he scored just two points in the third quarter. The pressure defense freed up the Wolverines’ attack, which was jump-started by Burley’s outside shooting and 14 points from Travis Henson.
That all allowed Potomac to turn a 13-point halftime deficit into a tie game with 2:15 left in the fourth.
“When we came into the locker room, Coach [Renard Johnson] told us we were lacking on defense and letting them get easy shots,” said Dyches, who finished with eight points in the defeat. “Once we picked that up, it allowed us to make that run.”
But the Engineers countered with an 8-0 run to tilt the scoreboard back in their favor. Rahim Ali connected on back-to-back layups, and Perry canned four consecutive free throws. Potomac, which nearly erased the gap one final time, was left scrambling as the clock wound down on its season.
When it finally did, four seconds after Robertson’s off-balance threepointer rolled in, the Wolverines froze in place, while the Engineers sprinted into a celebration at midcourt.
“Coach always says play until the clock hits triple zeros,” Robertson said through a blank stare. “So that’s what I thought about when I had the ball: The game’s not over until it’s over.
“One point away,” he said. “It hurt. Nothing we can do about it now.”