Dunbar pulls away with first title

Poets defeat Catonsville with bench's help, 54-50

Girls 2A regional final

High School

March 04, 2000|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Dunbar overcame foul trouble and Catonsville's rebounding last night to earn the first regional girls basketball championship in the school's history.

With 17 points, Lakesha Wills was the only player to score in double figures as her No. 2 Poets defeated the visiting, 15th-ranked Comets, 54-40, for the Class 2A North regional championship.

The Poets (23-1) advanced to the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday at UMBC, where they will meet 2A South region champ Gwynn Park, a 52-45 winner over No. 7 Mount Hebron.

Dunbar, which lost a heart-breaker to eventual state champ Parkside in last year's regional final, found itself in another battle last night.

The Comets (20-7) led for most of the first quarter, largely because they out-rebounded the Poets 18-7.

Although the Comets continued to out-rebound Dunbar, finishing with a 46-34 edge, their lead didn't hold up as long.

Fifty seconds into the second quarter, the Poets took the lead for good on Toni Kennedy's three-pointer from the corner. By late in the quarter, the Poets had built their lead to 35-21.

In the third quarter, however, fouls on the Poets started to mount.

Late in the quarter, sophomore point guard Tiffany Jones found herself surrounded by a new cast. With starters Wills, Kennedy and Tierra Little on the bench with four fouls each, LaToya Melvin, Vonnell Baylor, Ciarra Jones and Bianca Sullivan joined Tiffany Jones on the floor.

"We have a lot of confidence in our bench," said Dunbar coach Wardell Selby. "They don't play a lot, but they're capable of stepping up to the plate. They really held us together while Toni and Kesha were out."

They did more than that. They extended the Poets' lead from 37-25, when Wills sat down with 4: 20 remaining, to 44-29 by the end of the quarter.

"Coach just said to keep it up," said Tiffany Jones, who finished with seven points, seven assists and five rebounds.

"I had in mind how bad we wanted to win. I'm a sophomore, and I have two more years, but Kesha's my best friend, and she's a senior. I wanted to do it for her and for Coach Selby. We just had to play hard and never give up because [Catonsville's] a hard-working team."

The Comets' Carrie Lowman and Andrea Denton scored quick baskets to open the final quarter, but once Wills, Kennedy and Little returned, the trio ran the lead to 54-37 with 1: 40 to go.

In the run, Wills scored seven points. Her three-pointer from the corner with 5: 39 left deflated the Comets and boosted the Poets' lead to 49-33.

Wills finished with a team-high seven rebounds, but three Comets had at least as many -- Kara MaLeod (10), Carrie Lowman (nine) and Carole Schmoeller (seven).

"Their big girl [Wills] is the No. 1 scorer in the area, and our defense played great," said Schmoeller, "but offensively, we had a little lapse."

The Comets, who were in Class 3A last year, scored three field goals in the second half. They also hit 15 of 28 free throws; the Poets made 16 of 20.

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