Dunbar in 6th straight title game Poets make believers of psyched Middletown

Class 2A boys basketball

March 14, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- A banner on the Middletown side of Cole Field House read "Dunbar Schmunbar," testament that the Knights were not at all intimidated by the legendary basketball reputation of Baltimore's top-ranked Poets.

From the opening tip, it was evident the Frederick County squad was set on sending the Poets home title-less for the second straight year. The Knights trailed by just one point after the first quarter and by only three after the second and third periods.

But Dunbar started the final quarter with an 8-1 run that was capped by an alley-oop pass from Tony Johnson for a dunk by Jamal Brown (13 points, eight rebounds, four blocks) and the Poets improved to 24-3 with a 52-39 Class 2A state semifinal victory.

"Their hearts were as big as this arena, and you could tell they were just so hyped up to play us," said second-year Dunbar coach Lynn Badham. "But usually that emotion can settle down when you go in for that halftime break. We just wanted to keep it close, wear them out and take advantage of that."

Dunbar's 6-foot-4 Larry Tucker scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half to go with six rebounds, and 6-5 Donteaz Dean had six of his 10 points in the second half, along with nine boards.

Brown scored eight points in the second half, including three of his four dunks for the Poets, who will make their sixth straight championship game appearance at 6 p.m. today against Prince George's County's Central.

Dunbar had won four straight state titles but lost the Class 3A crown last season.

"They must have watched a lot of films on us, because it seemed like they knew every move I was going to make," Brown said. "They had No. 54 [Trevor Hillier] and No. 44 [Marc Clayton] following me everywhere. Everywhere I went, I saw two or three faces."

The game was tied four times in the first period, during which Middletown's half-court passing game caused problems. Dunbar was down as many as five points in the second period, with the Knights' 6-4 duo of Hillier (eight points, seven rebounds) and Justin Brandenburg (six, eight) playing well.

But the Poets took a halftime lead of 25-22 on Tucker's consecutive jumpers, the second with 26.4 seconds left in the half.

"They were really doubling and tripling on Jamal, concentrating on him and Donteaz," Tucker said. "So I kept shooting, and they eventually had to loosen up."

Matt Johnson's jumper tied the game at 28-all with 3: 10 left in the third period, and a put-back by teammate Brandenburg had the Knights up for the final time, 30-29, a minute later.

Dunbar's road to another state title gets exceptionally difficult tonight against Central (22-4), winner of four straight Prince George's County Class 1A-2A League crowns.

MIDDLETOWN -- Clayton 5, Brandenburg 6, Hillier 8, Moffatt 10, Brand 4, Johnson 4, Grossnickle 2. 14 5-8 39.

DUNBAR -- Tucker 14, Dean 10, Brown 13, Jones 4, Bowie 5, Ferguson 4, Johnson 2. 21 10-23 52. Half: 25-22, Dunbar.

Pub Date: 3/14/98

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