Poets win title, but it wasn't easy Nolan scores 28 in 65-59 victory Class 1A boys

March 18, 1993|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- As expected, Dunbar won the state Class 1A championship yesterday to become the first city public school to win a Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association title.

What wasn't expected was how close it was.

The Poets, who routed their first three opponents in the tournament, didn't resemble the team that had the area's No. 1 ranking.

But Dunbar, ranked No. 17 by USA Today, had enough to turn away previously undefeated Cambridge-South Dorchester, 65-59, at Cole Field House.

Norman Nolan scored a game-high 28 points and had 10 rebounds for Dunbar (20-4). Keith Booth had 14 points and eight assists. Rodney Elliott added 10 points and 17 rebounds. Dietrich Johnson led Cambridge-South Dorchester (23-1) with 14 points, and Hanee Camper had 13.

"A lot of pictures are not pretty, but they are still expensive," Dunbar coach Pete Pompey said. "I think the layoff really affected us, and overall we haven't really played much over the last three weeks."

Saturday's blizzard forced the rescheduling of the championship games to Tuesday. But most of the state was cleaning up for the storm, and the games were rescheduled to yesterday.

The layoff showed on Dunbar. The Poets had to overcome 2-for-17 shooting in the second quarter, going on a 17-5 run in the third quarter to turn away an upset bid by Cambridge-South Dorchester.

"We thought it was going to be easy," said Nolan, who won his second consecutive title. "When we got the early lead, we relaxed, and they came right back at us."

Nolan has seemed to develop a knack of playing well at Cole Field House. Last season, the 6-foot-7 junior scored 54 points and pulled down 25 rebounds and eight blocks with a broken left wrist in two games, leading Milford Mill to the state Class 1A championship.

In the first quarter, Nolan picked up where he left off, scoring 10 points as the Poets built a 20-14 advantage. With Cambridge starting to sag in on him in the lane, Dunbar tried to establish its outside shooting.

That's when its struggles began.

After a Rodney Elliott basket off of a rebound gave the Poets a 22-14 lead, they missed their next nine shots and had five turnovers.

The Vikings made the most of the opportunity, outscoring Dunbar 11-2 to take a 25-24 lead, their third of the first half against a Poets team that had trailed once in their previous three games and had won by an average of 48 points.

"We took them for granted in the first half," Booth said. "We weren't really pushing up on them as hard. But in the second half, we decided to push up harder on them because they had nothing to lose."

Playing in his final game for Dunbar, Booth, who announced last Friday he would sign with Maryland, also struggled, making five of 19 shots.

With Dunbar trailing 30-27, Booth's jumper from the left corner pulled the Poets even at 30. Then the Poets went back inside to Nolan, who had the day's best shooting performance, converting 14 of 22 attempts.

He scored the next six for the Poets, increasing their lead to 36-31. Cambridge pulled to 36-33 before Dunbar put together a 11-0 run, extending its advantage to 47-33.

"The difference was our inside game," said Pompey, whose team out-rebounded Cambridge, 51-38. "We had some size on them and that's what paid off for us. On the perimeter, they were equal to us."

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