ST. LOUIS -- Dunbar High School was last but certainly not least last night.
The Poets, who met Vashon High School of St. Louis in the finale of the Coca-Cola/KMOX Shootout at The St. Louis Arena, capped the six-game event with a 75-49 win over the Wolverines. The victory moved Dunbar to 4-0 on the season.
The Poets were led by their big three -- Michael Lloyd, Donta Bright and Keith Booth. Lloyd led all scorers with 24 points, 11 steals and numerous slam dunks. Bright scored 22 and Booth 13 for the Poets. Jermaine Kemp led the Wolverines with 11 points.
Dunbar entered the game ranked No. 1 in the USA Today national poll, and the Poets did nothing to hurt that standing. Dunbar used a suffocating defense to overwhelm Vashon, a team that has appeared in the Missouri Final Four 10 of the past 16 years. The Wolverines have won four Missouri state titles in the past decade.
But Vashon proved to be no match for Dunbar. The Poets led by 31-18 after one half, then quickly put the game away for good early in the second half.
After Vashon (6-1) had pulled to within 10 points on a layup by Kemp, the Poets went to work, outscoring the Wolverines by 8-2 over the next two minutes to stretch the lead to 42-26. Dunbar pulled out to a 50-32 advantage when Lloyd banked one in with 2:04 remaining in the quarter. Dunbar led by 52-35 after three quarters.
The Poets added to their lead and got in some show time for the Midwest crowd early in the final quarter. Lloyd stole the ball on two consecutive trips and went in for reverse jams to make it 58-37. Booth then added a jam on the next trip to give the Poets a 60-37 advantage. Dunbar stretched its lead to as much as 29.
The Poets got off to a good start, opening a 6-0 lead off a jam by Booth and two baskets by Lloyd. Dunbar took a 12-4 lead at the 2:14 mark when Bright finished off a break with a dunk.
Vashon trailed the entire quarter, but the Wolverines were able to make a game of it when their long-range game began to click. Shelvy Brown and Jermaine Kemp both hit three-pointers with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter to bring the Wolverines within 15-14. Bright's basket with 13 seconds left gave the Poets a 17-14 lead after one quarter. Booth, Bright and Lloyd accounted for all of the Poets' points in that first eight minutes.
That same trio -- and an improved effort on the defensive end -- helped the Poets put the game away in the second quarter. Dunbar began the quarter with an 11-0 run en route to a 31-18 halftime advantage.
Vashon's first points of the quarter were courtesy of a goaltending call more than six minutes into the quarter. Jarvis Hardimon's put-back score with 35 seconds remaining in the half was the Wolverines' only legitimate basket of the quarter.
Dunbar got its first points from someone other than one of its big three when Cyrus Jones hit two free throws with 3:24 left in the quarter. Booth and Lloyd led the Poets with nine first-half points apiece, and Bright added seven.