Polley's 21 help Poets capture 4th straight title 66-60 win over Kennedy earns Dunbar 3A crown

Boys basketball

March 10, 1996|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLLEGE PARK -- When the final buzzer sounded yesterday, Dunbar coach Paul Smith walked to the end of the bench, sat down and breathed a big sigh of relief.

Smith would be the first to say that this season for the No. 2 Poets hasn't been easy in comparison to his first two, but it ended on a familiar note -- another state championship, Dunbar's fourth straight and first in Class 3A.

Dunbar defeated Kennedy of Montgomery County, ranked No. 16 in the Washington area, 66-60, for the state 3A championship. Tommy Polley scored 21 points for the Poets (21-6) and Durrell Garrett added 15 off the bench. DeMarlos Beasley led Kennedy (16-10) with a game-high 23 points and Dwayne Smith had 12.

In winning its 17th consecutive state tournament game since joining the MPSSAA along with the other city public schools in the 1992-93 season, Dunbar joined Gwynn Park of Prince George's County as teams which have won a state championship in three different classifications.

"We knew Kennedy was tough because of what they did in regionals and against Randallstown," said Smith, who's 69-10 in three seasons at Dunbar. "They deserved to be here, but our experience down the stretch was the difference."

As has been the case this season for Dunbar, it didn't come easy. The Poets missed 18 free throws (17-for-35) and mental mistakes allowed an upstart Kennedy team, starting five underclassmen, to keep things tight.

Kennedy, which beat Thomas Johnson in the regional finals last week and No. 9 Randallstown in Thursday's semifinals, was within 54-52 with 2: 34 remaining.

Garrett, who did a great job handling the ball under the full-court pressure of Kennedy, as he did in Thursday's win over Gwynn Park, drove down the middle and hit a jumper with 2: 01 left. That was followed by a three-point play by Polley for a 59-52 lead.

Kennedy got back to within 60-56 with 45 seconds remaining, but four free throws by Garrett and a three-point play by Tim Lyles (12 points), finally closed the door on the Cavaliers.

"We wanted to stop the penetration of their guards," said Garrett, a 5-foot-7 junior. "We felt their inside game couldn't match up with ours."

Jamar Holt gave Dunbar the lead for good at 50-49 with a three-pointer. Kennedy missed the front end of a one-and-one, leading to a rebound and basket by Polley.

"We got into foul trouble and missed some easy opportunities," said Kennedy coach Orlando Larracuente. "Dunbar executed. They did what they needed to do, and we got out of our offense at times."

The Cavaliers had a 38-34 lead with 1: 04 remaining in the third quarter. After Polley scored to pull Dunbar to within two, TyJuan Campbell of Kennedy and Dunbar's Atman Smith each were assessed a technical foul.

Kennedy converted one of the two technical free throws, while Dunbar hit both and regained possession because it had the alternate jump ball in its favor.

A baseline jumper by Polley gave Dunbar a 40-39 lead. Beasley came right back with a three-point play, giving the Cavaliers the lead, but a basket by Garrett tied the score at 42.

"There was never a doubt," said Polley, who won his fourth state basketball title. "We have battled all season long, doing the little things needed to win. It's that Dunbar mystique."

Pub Date: 3/10/96

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