Wolver­ines’ come­back falls just a point short

BAL­TI­MORE POLY 64, POTOMAC 63

The Washington Post Sunday - - ALLMETSPORTS.COM - BY JESSE DOUGHERTY jesse.dougherty@wash­post.com

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.”

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