Dunbar surprises No. 1 Southern, 78-70 Boys basketball

February 15, 1996|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The 1995-96 edition of the Dunbar Poets doesn't evoke memories of past teams that dominated the national rankings. Words like inexperienced, small and young probably would best describe this season's team.

But with each game, the No. 4 Poets have displayed improvement and maturity.

In a contest that featured four technical fouls in a bizarre sequence, Dunbar withstood a late rally to upset No. 1 Southern-B, 78-70, yesterday to clinch first place in the City East League.

Tommy Polley led Dunbar (13-6, 6-0) with a game-high 27 points. Tim Lyles and Atman Smith each added 13. Marlon Wise led Southern (15-3, 6-1), ranked No. 12 in this week's USA Today Super 25, with 19 points and John Hemsley scored 16.

The Poets will play host to West League champ and No. 3 Southwestern a week from today for the city championship, in a rematch of a December contest won by Southwestern.

Dunbar opened up a 19-point lead with over six minutes left in the final period before Southern stormed back, slicing the lead to 68-62 with 2:29 remaining.

But it was Polley and Smith, whose father, Meredith, is Southern's coach, turning back the Bulldogs' furious charge, combining for eight of Dunbar's final 10 points.

"We didn't do a good job of taking care of the ball for awhile," said Polley, who added eight rebounds and three assists. "We knew they were going to make a run, but we're able to do a better job of holding the ball and hitting our free throws."

The Poets attacked Southern from the opening tip, leading by as many as 13 points in the first half as the Bulldogs struggled with their shooting. Their frustration came to a head in a five-minute sequence late in the third quarter.

Trailing 48-38, Southern missed seven shots under the basket in a 10-second stretch before Hemsley was fouled. Southern assistant coach Mike Wise was hit with a technical foul, then argued with the referee before getting two more before leaving the court.

Hemsley hit one of two free throws, then Durrell Garrett began shooting the technical free throws for Dunbar. About a minute later, Smith was assessed with a technical foul.

Garrett converted six of eight free throws and on the ensuing possession, Chris Dean scored, giving Dunbar a 56-39 lead with 1:09 left in the third quarter.

Later, trailing 66-49, Southern pressured the Poets' backcourt, igniting an 11-0 run to pull within 66-60, with Hemsley scoring the final eight of the spurt.

Polley converted two free throws before a shot by Kofi Pointer brought Southern back to within six. Dunbar broke the Bulldogs' press for a layup by Atman Smith for a 72-64 lead with 1:15 left.

"Earlier in the year, we were caught up in trying to prove ourselves individually, but we are really playing well as a team," said Dunbar coach Paul Smith.

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