Dunbar vs. Lake Clifton: Round 2 No. 2 Poets look to avenge loss to No. 1 Lakers

February 19, 1993|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

Dunbar plays an important basketball game at Morgan State's Hill Field House tonight against rival Lake Clifton. That's hardly unusual for the Poets, who won the national championship last season.

What is different is the role Dunbar will assume for its regular-season finale: underdog.

The No. 2 Poets (15-4, 10-1) will attempt to regain the No. 1 spot from the Lakers (15-3, 10-0) in their second meeting of the season. On Jan. 22 at Morgan, Lake Clifton defeated Dunbar, 73-65, ending an eight-game losing streak to the Poets that dated to the 1987-88 season.

"It's difficult," said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey of the changed role. "The kids understand, but the fans and spectators have more of a problem with it than we do. We know that we're young and relatively inexperienced. We have one starter back from last season and the kids understand that. They're working on the things that we need to do to be successful."

A Lake Clifton win will give the Lakers their first series sweep since the 1986-87 season, first place in the Maryland Scholastic Association Gamper Conference 4A-1A Division and the right to play No. 3 Walbrook for the Baltimore City public schools championship Feb. 27 at Dunbar.

If the Poets win, they will take over first place and force Lake Clifton to beat No. 14 Edmondson on Tuesday to tie. Pompey, who is also the basketball representative of District 9 of the MPSSAA, said a tiebreaker has not been decided.

"Champions are hard to fall and won't just die," Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore said of Dunbar. "What we have to do is simply play in order to win. We can't just go in there and think that we can beat them because we did the first time."

Neither team has been seriously challenged since the first meeting of the area's No. 1 and No. 2 squads. Dunbar has won six straight by an average of 48.7 points, with three

100-plus-point games; Lake Clifton has scored 100 or more in four of its past five games.

Though the Poets have been scoring at a high pace, their shooting continues to be inconsistent. Their guard situation appears to be settled with senior Shawn Lipscombe, who played well in the first game against Lake Clifton, at the point. But the Poets hit only three of 13 free throws in the first half and were 3-for-7 in the crucial fourth period.

Pompey was pleased with the Poets' handling of the Lakers' pressure defense, but turnovers contributed to their demise. They can't afford that tonight, especially against the backcourt tandem of Shawnta Rogers and Kevin Norris, who combined to score 35 in the first game.

Another big factor was Terrance Payne, who scored only seven points, but his 12 rebounds and seven blocks were keys for the Lakers. Their defensive concentration again will be on Dunbar's Keith Booth (18 points in first game), but the Poets will need consistent play from the other starters and the bench.

"We have been playing great defense the last three weeks," Booth said. "We'll be ready for the challenge."

It's obvious that Dunbar is different from last season's 29-0 squad, but that isn't necessarily a problem. In 1989-90, a Dunbar team that was labeled young and inexperienced went 22-4 and won the Baltimore City public schools title.

"Even with an inexperienced ballclub, we're still around No. 1," said Pompey. "That says a lot about the program, but I'm not comfortable with it. . . . I'm not satisfied with being No. 2."

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