Pete Pompey says that when he took over at Dunbar six years ago, he dreamed of a national title. He also says that when Michael Lloyd and Donta Bright showed up four years ago, he began to realize that dream could be a reality.
Yesterday, it happened, as the Poets, the No. 1 team in the area and the nation all season, ripped Walbrook, 86-60, in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference championship game to win their 53rd straight game and finish the season 29-0.
Even without the services of their most versatile player, junior forward Keith Booth, the Poets were too much for Walbrook, which was trying to win its first A Conference title before about 8,000 of a record crowd of more than 10,000 that came to see yesterday's Metro Classic at the Baltimore Arena.
Booth was ejected from Tuesday's semifinal win over Southern for throwing the ball at an opponent and had to sit out the next MSA game under the league rules.
However, he was not missed.
All-America senior center Donta Bright, Booth's first cousin, took control early and finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots to earn game Most Valuable Player honors.
"It was business as usual," said Bright, who reportedly is leaning toward signing with Ohio State. "It's over with. It's March 1, and we are 29-0 and the national champions. This is the way I wanted to go out."
The issue was settled after the first quarter when the Poets built a 22-7 lead as Walbrook made just three of 16 field-goal tries. By halftime, it was 45-25, as the Poets had hit 18 of 30 shots.
Bright had 15 points and senior guard Cyrus Jones had 10 to lead the Poets' charge. Junior center Alexander Mobley, who started in place of Booth, finished with just six points but had four points and, more importantly, five rebounds at the half to help the Poets control the boards.
"We had to jump on them early before they noticed Keith wasn't here," said Pompey. "Alexander did a heck of a job rebounding for us. I think that was the difference in the first part of the game."
Another difference was Jones, the Poets' unsung hero all season, who finished with 23 points.
"Coach told us somebody had to step up and take charge other than Donta and Mike," said Jones.
Senior guard Michael Lloyd, a McDonald's All-American along with Bright, finished with 14.
"We felt we had to stop Lloyd, Bright and Jones, and I don't think in the first half we did a good enough job of containing them," said Walbrook coach Gus Herrington.
Walbrook got nine first-half points from junior guard Eric Carroll, but the Poets limited senior forward Jermaine Porter, the Warriors' other scoring threat, to four points in the first half.
"We didn't get off to a good start," said Herrington. "We went away from what we wanted to do. They [Poets] did too good a job. They played good defense and did what they had to do. I'd like to congratulate them. It's not that often you can go undefeated and be ranked No. 1 and win a national championship. They earned it."
The Poets defeated nine nationally ranked teams this season, including two on back-to-back nights in Hawaii and in the Charm City Classic at Towson State. Then, in their final game of the season, they had to face the area's No. 5 team without one of their most important players.
"They have just done an incredible job, the competition they played against, and today they showed the mark of a No. 1 team," Pompey said. "To lose a kid like Booth and come out and beat a team like Walbrook the way they did tonight, they were just not going to be denied. It's what they talked about all year long, to be No. 1 on March 1."
The A Conference title was Dunbar's third straight and 17th in the last 22 seasons. Dunbar also won national titles in 1983 and 1985.
WALBROOK -- Carroll 21, Porter 14, Wingo 10, Bass 2, Rafus 7, Rhodes 2, Wilson 2, Woodson 2. Totals: 23 6-10 60.
DUNBAR -- Banks 8, Lloyd 14, Bright 28, Jones 23, Mobley 6, Maddox 2, Cooper 5. Totals: 34 15-20 86.
Walbrook... 7... 18... 16... 19... --... 60
Dunbar.... 22... 23... 22... 19... --... 86