For Dunbar family, it's fun night out

December 24, 1993|By KEN ROSENTHAL

As they say, mother knows best.

"Turk is going to beat the hell out of him," Norma Salmon predicted before the game. "He's messing with Scooter already."

"Turk," for the uninitiated, is Maryland's Keith Booth. "Scooter" is Towson State's Terrance Alexander. And Norma was right -- Booth didn't personally squash his former Dunbar High teammate last night at the Baltimore Arena, but Maryland crushed Towson, 109-71.

Now, not many mothers call their son "Turk," but allow Norma to explain.

"His father is named Keith, his uncle is named Keith, and he's got two little cousins named Keith," she said, struggling to be heard as her daughter Kendra, 22, screamed, "Miss it Scooter!" at Alexander.

"Scooter's not going to speak to us anymore," Norma warned Kendra and her friend, Tanya Carter.

"We know," the young women replied.

Turk and Scooter, Donta Bright, Michael Lloyd -- every former Dunbar star of the '90s was in the house, Bright looking resplendent in a maroon UMass headband and maroon-and-white warm-up suit, Lloyd checking out the Maryland team he might join next season.

Not everyone in the sellout crowd of 12,581 had ties to Dunbar, but it seemed like it. Booth and Alexander grew up three blocks from each other in East Baltimore -- Booth on Linwood, Alexander on Lakewood. This was their homecoming.

"This is great. It's a dream," said Pete Pompey, the Dunbar coach and athletic director who is on administrative leave while the city state's attorney's office investigates the possible misuse of athletic department funds.

"Having had the opportunity to coach these kids and then see them play in their home arena, it just lifts my spirits, after all the trouble I've been through."

Norma's spirits didn't need lifting -- she was beaming from the moment she saw the game program and announced, "they got my baby out front." Her evening would have been perfect, had she not missed the first six minutes trying to straighten out ticket problems.

"Oh my god, 25-4," Norma shouted upon returning to her seat. "I've got to get into the game."

Not that Maryland needed her. Exree Hipp scored a career-high 35 points and her baby finished with a career-high 18. Alexander was Towson's second-leading scorer with 10 points, but he shot only 3-for-15 and went scoreless in the second half.

The way Booth's family was screaming at him, it's no wonder Alexander had such problems. "Get out of there, Scooter!" Norma screamed every time Alexander took a shot. She, Kendra and Tanya didn't let up until the game was over and the two former Dunbar players passed in front of them.

l "Go Scooter!" they shouted.

Alexander didn't look up, but Booth shot them a dirty look. "She never stops," Booth said later, smiling. "It's been like that ever since I was 8 years old."

"I wasn't really paying attention," Alexander said. "They started beating us so fast. We were backpedaling the whole game."

It all happened so quickly, there wasn't even time to talk trash. Booth and Alexander chatted briefly during warm-ups, but didn't speak to each other again until after the final buzzer.

"We going out?" Booth asked.

"I don't know," Alexander replied. "I doubt it."

Norma knows all of them, of course -- Bright is her nephew, and Scooter and the rest seem to show up at her dinner table every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"I give them the kitchen, and I'm gone," Norma said. "We eat

first, then we let Turk and all his buddies have it. Dante can eat, Turk can eat, and the rest of them, they can eat, too."

Bright, sitting two seats away, protested.

"We're big young men," he said, smiling.

Bright, of course, stands a good chance of facing his first cousin in the Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Mass. Much as last night's game was a reunion, it's the potential Maryland-UMass showdown that Norma has circled on her calendar.

"If I could get off from work to go, that's the game I'm waiting for," she said. "That's the one."

Get off from work? Who's Norma's boss, Scrooge? She works for the telephone company. Her boss is a Maryland fan, and apparently he's playing hardball. Someone call C&P: All the lady wants is to see her son play against his nephew.

You know who Norma will be rooting for.

"My son," she said. "Who else?"

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