Dunbar lives up to billing with Hawaii title No. 1 Poets beat No. 10 Harker, 75-56

December 23, 1991|By Pat Bigold | Pat Bigold,Special to The Sun

HONOLULU -- Dunbar gave Hawaii's fans what they were looking for in the finals of the Oceanic Iolani Prep Classic.

With about 1,500 fans and a local TV audience looking on, the Poets (8-0) appeared every bit the nation's top-ranked team that USA Today claims them to be in dispatching No. 10 Harker Prep, 75-56, Saturday night.

It was Dunbar's first Iolani championship in three trips to Honolulu.

All-American forward Donta Bright led all scorers with 24 points, including 15 in the second half. He had five assists and six rebounds.

Dunbar shot 85 percent (17-for-20) from the free-throw line to HTC Harker's 42 percent (6-for-14), with Bright going 6-for-6.

Junior Keith Booth had 21 points and nine rebounds last night, finishing second to Bright in the four-game series, averaging 8.25 rebounds to Bright's 9.75.

After winning the classic's annual slam-dunk contest earlier in the evening, 6-foot-2 All-American point guard Michael Lloyd scored 18 points, had four assists, three rebounds and five steals in the championship game and was awarded the tournament MVP trophy.

Told that Lloyd had made 22 steals since Tuesday, Dunbar coach Pete Pompey said: "He's been doing it ever since he's been playing basketball. You can't practice for that -- it's just instinct and quickness."

Lloyd averaged 19.5 points and 5.25 assists in the tournament.

Dunbar had shot out to a 12-5 lead, but four Poets turnovers late in the quarter allowed Harker, from Potomac, Md., to tie it at 12.

After 7-3 All-American center Serge Zwikker (18 points) gave the Colonels their only lead at 20-19, the Poets went on an 11-2 run to end the half. Alexander Mobley hit four straight free throws in that stretch.

Pompey said the slow early pace was not to his liking. "We had to push up and press a little bit so that we could change the pace to the way we like it."

Probably Bright's most critical contribution Saturday night was on defense. He guarded Zwikker and held him to five rebounds.

That was a far cry from the big man's 32-point, 16-rebound performance in Friday night's 66-59 Harker victory over Dunbar of Washington, D.C., in the semifinals.

"I'm 6-6, he's 7-3. I'm quicker, he's taller," said Bright. "Something had to give."

Asked how he neutralized the towering Dutch-born star, Bright said: "I just tried to keep my body on him. Coach just told me to go out and play hard."

Zwikker, who has signed a letter of intent with North Carolina, called playing against the nation's No. 1 team "a definite experience." He said he lacked self-confidence going into the game, because he knew so little about Dunbar. Picking up three fouls in the first half didn't help, either.

Dunbar had 14 turnovers, but forced Harker to commit 23 -- 12 of them in the second half.

Both teams shot poorly from the field in the first half. Dunbar was 8-for-19 and Harker 10-for-24.

But the 30-22 lead at the half was due to Dunbar's 13-for-16 foul shooting and Harker's 1-for-8.

But the Poets knew that the margin wasn't safe against a team like Harker.

"We were a little sluggish in the first half, playing a half-court game," said Booth. "But we kept our composure and pushed it up so that the big guy would have a harder time getting up and down the court."

Exree Hipp, the Colonels' 6-7 forward, scored five points at the start of the second half to help bring Harker to within 34-29.

But Lloyd hit a three-pointer and Bright scored a layup. Bright then grabbed a defensive rebound and rifled a court-length pass to Booth, who laid it in to give Dunbar its biggest lead to that point -- 43-31.

After ending the third quarter with a 47-33 lead, Booth and Bright combined for 20 points to put it out of reach for the Colonels.

"We had the score where we wanted it at halftime," said Harker coach Stu Vetter, who had won four Iolani championships while coach at Flint Hill (Va.) Academy. "Unfortunately, we didn't hit our free throws. If you get behind with a team like Dunbar, and you have to pressure them, you end up making more mistakes and they end up getting a lot of easy shots."

Hipp, who is bound for the University of Maryland, said Dunbar legitimized itself as the nation's No. 1 team.

"They just out-powered us," he said.

Booth, whose all-around game impressed Hipp, said he loved playing in Hawaii, although the gyms were rather warm. "I only hope we can come back next year," he said.

Booth said that he'd thought of Hawaii as a fantasy before coming here. "But walking around the beach in my spare time here, I realized it's the real thing."

Iolani Classic director Glenn Young said he will invite the Poets back next year.

USA Today's Dave Krider, who rates the top 25 high school basketball teams in the nation, was among those who attended the Iolani Classic.

He said that Harker would not fall too far below No. 10 in his poll since they lost to the No. 1 team.

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