No. 1 Poets hold off another challenger Dunbar tops Southern-AA, 62-53, in 2A East semifinal

March 06, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Every game for top-ranked Dunbar comes with a different challenge, another team looking to make its mark.

Last night in Harwood, a determined Southern team from Anne Arundel had upset in mind with a game plan in place to maybe pull it off. Finally, well into the third quarter, the Poets' overwhelming size took its toll inside and they came away with a well-earned 62-53 win over Southern in the Class 2A East region semifinal.

Dunbar moves on to play Worcester County's Stephen Decatur in tomorrow's region final.

With patience on offense and pressure on defense, the Bulldogs (14-10) found themselves with a 32-26 lead two minutes into the third quarter. Then Dunbar (22-3) took control with pressure defense of its own and some hard work underneath from 6-6 forward Jamal Brown and 6-5 forward Donteaz Dean. Both finished with 24 points and took turns dominating the offensive boards.

"They were pesky," said Dunbar coach Lynn Badham. "They did a lot of things well and were quick. They threw off our timing and I was hollering to be patient and get the ball inside and we'd be OK.

"Before games and during games, we always talk about how everyone is gunning for us because -- quote, unquote -- we're one of the best teams in the country. They're always already up and we have to get up, be ready mentally."

An enthusiastic, packed gym saw Southern's Demond Mullen (11 points) hit a three-pointer with 1: 02 left in the first quarter to give the Bulldogs their first lead. The lead increased to 32-26 when Mullen hit another three with 6: 15 left before Dunbar took control.

"We had a dry spell and got stuck on 32," said Southern coach Tom Albright. "I thought if we could keep it to a 60-point game we'd have an opportunity to win. I'm proud of our kids. They played hard and I don't think they intimidated us. We didn't back off at all. Dunbar is a fine team and I give them credit."

The Poets forced seven turnovers during the pivotal third-quarter stretch -- a 10-0 run -- that gave them a 36-32 lead. They went up by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter, but Southern never quit, getting a three from Will Maynard (14 points) with 1: 28 left to cut the Dunbar lead to 57-51. Dean provided the final answer with a basket inside and a three-point play on the following possession to send the Poets to the region final.

"They gave us a run for the money," said Brown. "At halftime, Coach told us to keep our heads up and don't get frustrated. We came out in the second half and hit them with the press. They weren't expecting it and it caused some turnovers."

Pub Date: 3/06/98

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