COLLEGE PARK -- Sitting in pain on the trainer's table 10 minutes before game time, Dunbar's Donta Bright was unsure whether he would participate in the 19th annual Capital Classic.
"It was real sore," Bright said of his right ankle, which he sprained during practice Wednesday. "I really didn't know if I could go."
By game time, Bright could go all right, winning Most Valuable Player honors for the Capital All-Star team with a 26-point, nine-rebound effort. But Bright didn't get enough help, as the Capital stars lost to the U.S. All-Stars, 103-102, before 10,092 at Cole Field House.
"Pretty normal to me," said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey, who had watched Bright perform the same magic during the Poets' recently completed national championship season. "This kid is just a great player. And tonight he showed a lot of guts."
A starter for the Capital team along with Dunbar teammate Michael Lloyd (15 points), Bright showed no ill effects of the injury at the start as he scored eight straight points to help his team build a 14-11 lead.
By halftime, Bright was the only player in double figures and the only player on the court in a flow. He had 13 points and five rebounds, as the Capital All-Stars led, 50-41.
"I'm used to playing in this type of environment," Bright said of the big crowd and his smooth start. "I can't say if anyone else was tight. I felt good."
The Capital team's lead at intermission disappeared quickly in the second half, as the U.S. team scored the first 12 points to take a 53-50 lead.
The U.S. team had its biggest lead, 79-72, when Bright and Lloyd led a comeback by scoring eight straight points -- including two three-pointers by Lloyd for an 80-79 lead. But that was the team's last lead, as the U.S. team built a 99-93 edge in the closing minute before holding on for the win.
Jason Kidd, a McDonald's All-American from St. Joseph High School in Alameda, Calif., was the MVP for the U.S. team (15 points), but Bright was most in demand from the adoring fans afterward.
"I wasn't looking forward to winning the MVP award, I was just looking to win," Bright said. "This feels great. I wanted to show some of these other players around the country that I'm a player."
And he was, the best of the best -- despite the leg injury. And from the sideline, his high school coach looked on like an admiring teacher.
"Those who say he's going to have a difficult adjustment, I'd like to know where they live at," said Pompey of Bright, who will attend the University of Massachusetts next year. "If he has to sit out a year [because of his SAT scores] that will be his biggest adjustment."