The sequel to Dunbar vs. Lake Clifton was better than the first game two weeks ago, but the outcome was the same.
Top-ranked Dunbar advanced to tomorrow's championship game of the Baltimore City Public Schools Tournament by holding off No. 4 Lake Clifton, 74-60, before 3,850 last night at Morgan State University's Hill Fieldhouse.
Dunbar will meet No. 3 Southern in the championship game at 4:45 p.m. Southern beat Walbrook in yesterday's other semifinal, 66-58.
This will be the second meeting between Dunbar and Southern this season. When the two met the last time in a much-awaited matchup Jan. 25, the outcome was anticlimactic, as the Poets routed the Bulldogs, 81-47, at Southern.
Such was the case in the first meeting between Dunbar and Lake Clifton, which the Poets dominated and won, 83-68. But yesterday, the Lakers would not let the Poets run away until the final three minutes.
The Poets (24-1) built a 40-24 halftime lead on the strength of a 24-10 rebounding difference.
The 16-point lead was the Poets' largest. Lake Clifton (14-5) made a run in the fourth quarter. The Lakers scored seven straight to cut the Poets' lead to 64-57 with 3:23 left.
The Lakers had a chance to get closer after a Dunbar turnover, but Curtis Shepherd's shot in the lane was deflected, and Dunbar's Marvin Gross batted it out to teammate Donta Bright, who was fouled.
Bright made one free throw to start a 6-0 run, as the Poets took control, 70-57.
Senior guard Terrance Alexander led Dunbar with 18 points and seven rebounds. Junior guard Michael Lloyd had 16 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and junior center Bright had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
"Catch-up is a tough game," said Lakers coach Charlie Moore. "You get down 10, down 12, come back and cut it to seven. Catch-up is a tough game."
Shepherd led Lake Clifton with 18 points. Senior guard Ronnie Van Hook added 15, but the Lakers' top scorer turned in a subpar shooting performance, making just five of 15 shots.
"Lake Clifton played well," said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey. "We hadn't played in 10 days, and that didn't help us. We were a little rusty, although I'm more pleased with this game because in close situations we reacted the way we were supposed to."
The last time the two met, the Poets cruised for three quarters, then let the Lakers get within nine in the final minute of the fourth quarter.
Yesterday, Dunbar again started quickly and seemed on the verge of taking complete control early. The Poets started the game with a 7-0 run, and Moore quickly called timeout.
The Lakers ran off five straight as Van Hook hit a three pointer and a layup. The Lakers kept it close for a while, trailing 13-11 before the Poets put together an 11-3 run to build a 24-14 lead. Dunbar led, 24-16, at the end of the quarter.
Both teams shot well in the first quarter. Dunbar made 11 of 16 and Lake Clifton made seven of 11. Lloyd paced the Poets with 10 first quarter points.
Both teams lost their shooting touch in the second quarter. Dunbar missed its first six shots and finished the quarter five of 15 from the field. Lake Clifton also missed its first six and finished the quarter four of 17 from the field.
Still, the Poets had enough firepower to finish the quarter with a 11-2 run to turn a 29-22 lead into a 40-24 lead at halftime.