A slow start by the Poly Prep girls’ basketball team cost it a shot at the Ivy League title as it fell to visiting Dalton 40–34 on Feb 18, according to coach Mike Junsch, who saw the trouble early.
“I just knew watching the warm ups, that we were a little lethargic, a little lackadaisical, but we have done that before,” Junsch said. But he had supportive words for his team’s belated effort late in the game. “I got to give credit to them. They play hard and are a really good team.”
The Tigers came out of the gate and took an 11–2 lead at the end of the first quarter. Poly Prep guard Carly Corr saw her team come out timid, which made it fall behind early.
“I think we were all nervous, and once we lost momentum we couldn’t get it back,” Corr said.
Dalton turned its defense into offense. It opened the second quarter on an 8–2 run, led by six points from Caleigh Ryan, to take a 19–4 lead. Junsch credited Dalton’s pressure defense with forcing his club into mistakes. Poly Prep then responded with a run of its own to cut the Dalton lead to 21–10 at the half.
“We had every opportunity to win this basketball game, but every time we would bring it close, we would shoot ourselves in the foot,” Junsch said.
The Blue Devils (15–3, 10–2) continued to trim the Dalton advantage in the third quarter, opening the frame with a 7–0 run, led by four points from Maggie White, to make it 23–17. The key to Poly’s resurgence was its sense of urgency, according to Corr.
“I think we were just swinging the ball around faster,” said Corr, who had eight points. “I think we realized it was our last chance to win, so it’s now or never.”
Dalton (18–1, 11–1) answered right back with Ryan leading another 8–2 run to make it 31–19. The Tigers then jumped ahead 36–22 early in the fourth on a three-pointer from Natalie Ullman.
Poly had one more rally in it. Corr scored five points during a 9–0 run to get her team to 36–31. Following a Dalton basket, Corr hit a three-pointer to make it 38–34 with less than 2:00 left, but that was as close as the Blue Devils would get.
Poly still heads to the private school state playoffs with a chance for a high seed. Junsch hopes his girls see Dalton again in the postseason and learn from their loss in the regular season finale. Poly won the first meeting between the two schools by 48–38 on the road earlier this month.
“Hopefully we’ll meet again in the finals,” Junsch said. “I said, ‘girls you beat yourselves. If I were you guys, I would be upset with ourselves. Where do you take that? Do you mope, or do you come to practice and get down to business?’ ”