America's Best are about to become America's Guests.
Dunbar, ranked first in the nation by USA Today, made its only local appearance until Jan. 7 yesterday at Mount St. Joseph. The Poets won, 115-66.
Dunbar's height advantage led to a 62-26 rebounding advantage, and its quickness led to a 13-3 superiority in steals.
The Gaels, with four new starters and with two sophomores playing extensively, won't be alone in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference in facing such large deficits against Dunbar. They were merely the first, an early victim while Dunbar coach Pete Pompey worked on some things.
"Mostly, we wanted to work on our inside game," said Michael Lloyd. "It's something we got out of sync in Pennsylvania." The Poets (3-0) defeated No. 3 Simon Gratz (Philadelphia) to win the Cambria War Memorial Tournament in Johnstown, Pa., Saturday.
Lloyd, a 6-foot-2 erstwhile point guard who is starting at small forward, was a major part of that inside game yesterday. His offensive rebounding led to a variety of put-backs and tip-ins, resulting in a game-high 30 points. Center Donta Bright had 20, forward Keith Booth scored 17 and 5-9 Paul Banks, a first-year starter at guard, added 10.
With senior Diego Jones (nine points) at the other guard spot, does Pompey plan to go through the season with a three-guard offense against a national schedule?
"We hope to get away with it right now," he said. "We know we're in good shape at the one and two-guards, with Banks and Jones."
But he knows he needs depth for the weeks and months ahead. In the next three weeks, Dunbar will play tournaments in St. Louis, Honolulu and Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Poets will be the major draw at each and top-caliber competition will be looking to knock them off.
"Our schedule is a tough one down the road," said Pompey, who got scoring from all 12 of his players. "We have to develop kids who can come off the bench and play well. Kids like Alex Mobley, who's a 6-7 sophomore, we've got to get ready to play inside. And Ahmad Childs [a 6-4 senior] and Michael Cooper [a 6-3 sophomore], who is always around the ball.
"We've got to work on our outside shots. That's why I left some of the kids in a little longer than I might normally. It was an early-season game."
Donte Abron, a 5-5 junior guard, led the Gaels with 13 points. Jeff Servidio contributed 12 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals.