Classic could match Southern and Dunbar

January 07, 1994|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

Are you ready for Southern-Dunbar II?

The area's Nos. 1 and 2 boys basketball teams could meet again on Jan. 29 in the third annual Charm City Classic at Reitz Arena.

In the Function at the Junction Mixer at Coppin State on Dec. 10, Southern rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final quarter to edge the Poets, 72-71, and take over the metro area's top ranking.

It was the first meeting between Baltimore's traditional powers since Feb. 25, 1992.

But respect -- not a rematch -- was the main focus of discussion at a news conference yesterday.

At last year's Charm City Classic at the Towson Center, Baltimore teams were winless in six games.

"This is the year for the Baltimore schools to get the bragging rights back," said Dunbar senior forward Rodney Elliott, whose team lost to St. Anthony's of New Jersey, 53-48, and Simon Gratz, 61-44. "It was disappointing, but the teams we played had great talent."

A four-team mixer its first two years, the Charm City Classic will have two four-team brackets, including five teams that currently are ranked in the USA Today Super 25.

The Northwestern bracket will feature St. Raymond's, defending New York state champion and ranked No. 18 nationally, playing Walbrook, the area's No. 9 team, on Friday, Jan. 28.

Prospect Hall of Frederick will meet Baltimore's No. 5 team, Lake Clifton, and the winners will meet the next night for the title.

Four of the nation's top 13 teams make up the Southeastern bracket, including Southern, which is ranked No. 7 and No. 13 Dunbar.

The Bulldogs will meet defending national champion Simon Gratz of Philadelphia, currently ranked No. 8, on Jan. 28. In the other Southeastern bracket game, the Poets face Rice of New York, the country's No. 1 squad.

The winners meet the next night for the championship. Dunbar and Southern could meet in the championship or consolation contest.

Rice features the nation's top player in Felipe Lopez, a 6-foot-5 senior forward who turned down an $800,000 contract to play basketball in Spain. He is being heavily recruited by Arizona, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State, St. John's, Seton Hall, Syracuse and UCLA.

Last season at the Charm City-Big Apple Challenge, Lopez, a native of the Dominican Republic, scored 23 points in 28 minutes in a 64-42 victory over Southern.

"This is, in my opinion, the Super Bowl of high school sports," said Bill Spotts, promoter of the Charm City Classic.

If past form holds true, Rice, the third team to be ranked No. 1 this season, should be taking a big step toward the mythical national title.

Dunbar in 1992 and Simon Gratz last season came into the Charm City Classic ranked No. 1, won twice and went on to claim the national championship.

But the Baltimore teams want to rewrite history. Outside of the two victories by the Poets in the inaugural Charm City Classic, Baltimore teams have gone 1-9.

"It's something not to be proud of," said Lake Clifton senior center Terrance Payne, whose team lost to Simon Gratz, 60-46, and St. Anthony's, 74-53, last year. "There is a lot more senior leadership on the teams, so we should do better."

Tickets will be $7 for general admission and $10 for reserved seats. They will go on sale Monday at the Loyola College ticket office and Jan. 19 at the participating schools.

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