It wasn't even close.
The much-anticipated matchup of No. 1 Dunbar and No. 2 Southern yesterday was little more than a rerun of most of the Poets' lopsided victories this season.
Dunbar (17-1) broke a two-game losing streak at Southern (10-4) by routing the Bulldogs, 81-47, before a standing-room-only crowd, estimated at 1,000, in a non-league matchup of Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference leaders.
Wasn't this game supposed to be closer?
Wasn't Southern the team that had the height and the talent to give the Poets a real game?
The Poets seemed to think so.
"We thought it would be closer, but we just came out and played harder than they did," said center Donta Bright, who led the Poets with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bulldogs certainly thought they could give the Poets a test.
"Our heads weren't in it," said John Salley, Southern's senior center who was held to six points. "After they got a little lead, we lost our composure. We didn't run the offense like we were supposed to."
Southern never got its offense going. The Bulldogs were 18 of 63 from the field.
The Poets had four players in double figures, and Southern had two. The Poets starters outscored Southern's, 75-40.
Dunbar made only 28 of 62 field-goal attempts, but beat Southern to loose balls and kept up the defensive pressure throughout the game. In fact, it was Dunbar that played like the underdog.
"They are a very determined team, and, in order to beat them, you have to be as determined as they are," said Southern coach Meredith Smith. "I think determination was the bottom-line factor."
There were several other factors, particularly Dunbar's fabulous foursome of Bright, Michael Lloyd, Terrance Alexander and Keith Booth.
Bright got the Poets rolling, hitting four of four first-quarter field goals, as the Poets built a 21-12 lead.
With the score 11-11, Dunbar finished the quarter with a 10-1 run. Booth (17 points, 11 rebounds) scored five during that run.
Southern scored the first basket of the second quarter to make it 21-14, but Dunbar scored the next six points, all by Alexander (14 points) to build a 27-14 lead.
A driving layup by Southern's Kwame Evans (12 points) interrupted that run and made it 27-16, but Dunbar scored 11 of the next 13 to build its biggest lead (38-19) of the half. Southern made a run, however, scoring the last seven points of the first half, concluding with a three-point bank shot by David Cason at the buzzer, to shave the Poets' lead to 38-26.
But that would be Southern's last run, and the Bulldogs would get no closer. Dunbar scored 13 of the first 15 points of the second half to take a 51-28 lead, while Southern made just one of its first 10 shots.
Lloyd (21 points, 11 assists) scored seven to spark that run. Southern made three of its last six field goals, but the Poets were well in control with a 61-36 lead after three quarters.
"They outplayed us," said Smith. "They beat us to loose balls and beat us to balls on the board. I think David Cason [16 points] had a good game. He came to play, but the rest didn't. I think we are a much better team than we exhibited out there today."
The Bulldogs may get a chance to prove that next month in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference playoffs or the Baltimore City Public Schools Tournament.
Pompey has the difficult task of keeping his team sharp, although realistically there doesn't seem to be a team left on the Poets' schedule that can beat them.
"We've been able to stay focused and I hope we can continue," said Pompey. "We still have a league schedule, and we hope to play those games one at a time. We've got to take them the same way, as if they are standing in our way for first place."