Posted On: 12/14/17 7:11 AM
In one of the most anticipated games of the 2017-18 high school basketball season in the city of Baltimore, reigning class 3A champion Polytechnic Institute played host to last year’s 4A champion in the Perry Hall Gators. Perry Hall had defeated the Engineers in the prior two match ups, but Poly was able to pull away for a 72-63 win to improve to 3-0 on the year. Perry Hall’s record falls to 1-1.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
Demetrius Mims is a man on a mission
With the loss of last year’s senior leader in Dre Perry (Temple), the questions that surrounded the Engineers had to do with Mims’ ability to carry the load. Last night, he answered those questions by scoring a game-high 29 points and for large portions of the game he looked flat-out dominant. Mims came out blazing connecting on three three’s in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter to close the Gators out, all his buckets came around the rim. Nine of his 29 points came in the final frame and ultimately gave the Engineers the boost to pull away. I’ve watched Mims since summer league and one thing is for certain, he’s ready to do whatever it takes to protect their title and prove why he is the best player in the city.
The game of basketball has officially changed
In the NBA game, we’re seeing more and more of players who would usually be used as centers or power forwards handle the ball out on the perimeter. This transition has made its way into the AAU and high school basketball scene as well. Perry Hall has the most versatile set of big men in the state in Laquill Hardnett and Anthony Higgs. Hardnett (14 points) fouled out with a little over four minutes to go in the game, but his skill set was on full showcase during this one. Whether it was hitting a three, attacking the rim or operating as the ball handler in pick-and-roll sets with Higgs, Hardnett was making plays consistently. Higgs made a few plays himself off the dribble. After a jab step to get his defender off balance, Higgs took it strong to the rim and finished with a two-handed slam while getting fouled. Big men these days are so skilled with guard-like tendencies. If you don’t believe me, just go watch the Gators.
Justin Lewis’ coming out party
This was not only a big game for Poly as a team, but also Lewis as an individual. The sophomore transferred to Poly to be a weapon in big time games like this, and he was nothing short great on both ends. Lewis finished with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. The 6’8 big man had multiple dunks that ignited the crowd and helped swing momentum for the Engineers. Defensively, he was effective in making Higgs’ night difficult. Higgs still made his plays, but Lewis helped limit them as much one could. This win wasn’t only a statement for what’s to come for the Engineers, but also just how effective Lewis is going to be for them.
— Colby Giacubeno (@ColbyGHoops) December 13, 2017
Anthony Walker has big outing
As stated earlier, Perry Hall has a pair of the most versatile big men you’ll see. Throw in Walker, a 6’8 junior, and it makes them even more difficult to match up against. Walker played the majority of last season on junior varsity to help develop his game more before getting moved up for the state championship run. It’s safe to say his development is going just fine considering he led the Gators in scoring with 17 points. Walker didn’t force any of his looks. They all came from rolling after ball screens, converting off penetration passes from teammates or filling lanes in transition. Even though they came out on the losing side of things, this could be a great confidence booster for Walker. If that is the case, it’ll make the Gators extremely tough to stop.
For Perry Hall, the road doesn’t get any easier. Friday night they’ll play host to Milford Mill, who may be one of the more overlooked teams in the area. Transfer guards Jordan Goodwin and Eric Turner have been key to the Millers success thus far and they’ll likely be the biggest challenger in the county for the Gators. Next Tuesday Perry Hall takes on a red hot John Carroll team who now has point guard Immanuel Quickley after he made his season debut Monday. The Patriots have been arguably the best team in Baltimore out of the gates led by Montez Mathis.
Poly will take on Mervo and Ben Franklin before their big match up with John Carroll on Dec. 23 at Morgan State University. They’ll follow that game up with match ups against Riverdale Baptist and McDonogh. Both teams feature top tier talent at the guard position, so Poly will have their work cut out for them.
It’s still very early in the season to make any bold statements, but this was a game between two powerhouse programs that will have a good chance of once again representing their respective class as champions when it’s all said and done.
Highlights courtesy of Capitol Hoops