WASHINGTON -- There's bad news for Baltimore-area basketball teams. Top-ranked Dunbar is as good and possibly even better than predicted by many.
Last night the Poets let an outstanding Dunbar team from Washington hang around for a half but shook off The Washington Post's No. 1-ranked team in the second half en route to a 84-68 victory in the championship game of the James Kenner Tournament at Georgetown's McDonough Arena.
It was not supposed to be this easy for the Poets against the Crimson Tide, who were ranked No. 21 by Street & Smith's in its national Top 25. Baltimore Dunbar was No. 18 in Street & Smith's, but the Mid-Atlantic New Service rated Dunbar of Washington No. 2 and Dunbar of Baltimore No. 3 in its preseason rankings for the region.
Junior center Donta Bright started slow -- only four first-half points -- but finished with 22 points to lead the Poets (2-0). Senior guard Terrance Alexander added 18, Michael Lloyd had 16 and Keith Booth finished with 15. Bright was voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player after scoring 43 points and grabbing 21 rebounds in two games.
Baltimore Dunbar coach Pete Pompey was more pleased with his team's performance last night than with its 75-58 semifinal win over Coolidge Friday night, when the Poets committed 33 turnovers.
"We played better tonight," said Pompey. "We were able to stay focused for the whole game and keep up the intensity. When we are able to do both those things we're tough to beat."
The Poets built a 64-52 lead after three quarters. After Washington Dunbar (4-1), the two-time defending city champion, scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to make it 64-57, Baltimore Dunbar used a 12-2 run to bolt ahead, 76-59. Washington Dunbar never seriously threatened the Poets again.
Second-ranked Southern (0-2) lost to Coolidge, 64-62, in the consolation game last night.
Dunbar built a 40-36 lead in a fast-paced first half during which both teams used full-court pressure to quicken the tempo.
Baltimore Dunbar hit 16 of 28 first-half field goals and turned over the ball 11 times. Washington Dunbar connected on 15 of 36 field goals and also had 11 turnovers.
Baltimore Dunbar hit eight of 11 first-quarter field goals, but the Poets' eight turnovers helped Washington Dunbar build a 21-19 first-quarter lead. Washington Dunbar made just nine of 20 field goals, but turned the ball over only four times, despite Baltimore Dunbar's full-court pressure.
It was almost the opposite in the second quarter. Baltimore Dunbar limited its turnovers to just three, but its shooting fell off as the Poets made eight of 17 shots.
Washington Dunbar turned the ball over seven times and hit just six of 16 field goals in the second quarter.
Washington Dunbar built a 33-27 lead. But Baltimore Dunbar quickly rallied with 10 straight points to take a 37-33 lead. Donta Bright had four during that run, helping the Poets finish the half with a 13-3 run and a 40-36 lead.
Baltimore Dunbar found its shooting eye again in the third quarter and raced to a 64-52 lead at the end of three quarters.
The Poets hit seven of 11 field goals, compared to just six of 14 shooting for Dunbar of Washington.