Revamped Poets win 11th in row, title shot Brown steps up as Dunbar ousts Crossland, 68-58

Class 3A/Boys basketball

March 14, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Unexpectedly minus a senior starter, No. 6 Dunbar survived an anxiety attack with two minutes left in yesterday's Class 3A state semifinal game here.

When the buzzer sounded, the Poets were on top, 68-58, for their 11th straight win, plus a shot tomorrow at the school's fifth straight state championship. Indeed, other, younger players stepped up in cavernous Cole Field House to help Dunbar eliminate Crossland, the Washington area's No. 3 ranked team.

The missing Dunbar starter was Dyrell Garrett, whom coach Lynn Badham announced had been dropped from the squad for violating team policy. He would not elaborate. Only last Friday, Garrett's 11 fourth-period points had been essential to Dunbar's regional championship win over Broadneck. He was a key in the Poets' three-guard offense.

Yesterday's scariest moments began with 2: 04 left. Crossland's Taj Hawkins stole the ball from Arnold Bowie (four points, three assists) and completed a three-point play to cut Dunbar's lead to 57-56. The Poets' 6-foot-5 senior Chris Dean had just fouled out, leaving a sophomore, 6-6 Jamal Brown, to deal with the Cavaliers' 6-8, 250-pound Henry Rascoe.

But Brown, who played a huge game, handled the last-minute assignment, too. All he did was score the game's next four points -- on a foul shot and a three-pointer -- to push Crossland down 61-56 and his total for the game up to 25. The Poets ended on a 7-2 run.

Badham, said Brown afterward, "just told me I had to step up to the challenge. He let me know I had a big responsibility."

Brown, who also had seven rebounds, three steals and four blocks for the game, scored 13 points in the third period, when the Poets built a 14-point lead. He also blocked three shots, grabbed four rebounds and had a steal and assist during the period, after which Dunbar led, 51-41.

"Believe it or not, I was really scared at first. This is the first time I've played here, and the atmosphere was crazy," Brown said. "But I wanted to come here and play a steady game -- play hard and give it my best."

Rascoe (16 points, 10 rebounds), Melvin Atkinson (14 points), Shawn Lomax (nine points) and Hawkins (nine points) played well for Crossland (23-4), which had its 11-game winning streak stopped.

Dunbar faces Thomas Johnson at 3 p.m. tomorrow for the state title.

Also helping offset Garrett's absence, another Dunbar sophomore, Tim Lyles, came through with 18 points, four assists and shot nine of 12 from the free-throw line. And Derek Jones (nine points) had just one turnover and played well defensively, as did Leonard Ferguson.

"We got a little too comfortable with the big lead we had," said Badham, in his first season at Dunbar. "But the kids are young, and that's going to happen. I'm pleased, overall."

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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