Dunbar uses balance to upend No. 1 Southern

Rankings motivate No. 7 Poets, 80-73

High Schools

January 17, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Names like Steve Miller, Kenny Minor, Reggie Cornell, Victor Molen and James Taylor may not strike fear into the hearts of Dunbar opponents the way Sam Cassell, David Wingate, Reggie Williams, Reggie Lewis or Muggsy Bogues did years ago.

But Molen will tell you that he and his teammates not only wear the same colors, but are capable of playing with similar pride. He'll tell you that pride was on the line last night before a standing-room only crowd at No. 1 Southern (9-3), a team the seventh-ranked Poets (11-1) overcame, 80-73, for their fourth straight victory.

"We were real motivated after being ranked No. 15 in the preseason. Everybody doubted us. The whole city doubted us," said Molen. "They were No. 1, but we were still the ones in the role of the hunted because we're Dunbar. So we came in here with a point to prove, and I think you saw us start to prove it right here. But we're going to keep proving it the whole season."

Molen, who scored 14 points, was part of a balanced effort by the Poets, who were led by Miller (23 points), Cornell (16), Minor (14) and Taylor (12).

"We're in their house, they're ranked in the country and we knock them off. This is the best feeling in the world. It's unbelievable," Miller said.

The Poets trailed, 30-29, at halftime, but tied the game at 54 entering the fourth period -- the second of six times the game was tied in the second half. Dunbar would use an 11-4 run to take a 70-66 lead with 1:53 to play.

North Carolina-bound All-Metro point guard Melvin Scott's free throws brought the Bulldogs to 70-68, but Minor's steal, layup and subsequent three-point play stretched the Poets' lead to 75-71 with 40 seconds left.

"I'm always telling the kids, `You're not the first to wear the burgundy and gold, someone else paved the way for you.' I tell them the key is to play hard, with heart," said Dunbar coach Eric Lee.

"I told them, `This is going to be a game of guts and that Poet pride.' If you believe in it, then it's going to take you a long way."

Junior guard Damon Spence (23 points), Scott (13) and Darshaun Luckey (13) led Southern, which could not overcome Scott's 0-for-6 field-goal shooting in the first half.

The Bulldogs sorely missed starting point guard Keyon Johnson, who was suspended indefinitely from the team by coach Meredith Smith after being arrested last week on drug possession charges.

"We lost because we weren't together as a team tonight," Luckey said. "We have to come back from this and be better prepared the next time."

The Poets next play defending Class 2A state champ, Aberdeen of Harford County, on Friday night.

And Miller says his team will remain hungry: "We'll keep looking at that preseason No. 15 ranking that's posted in our locker room. That makes us want to be the best. It makes us want to go 28-1."

Note: Shortly before the game began, between 200 and 300 non-ticket holders attempted to enter the gymnasium but were told by school police the gymnasium was at its legal capacity, said Agent Martin Bartness, a city police department spokesman.

Bartness said when the crowd became unruly, school police broadcast a request for city police to aid them in dispersing the angry crowd, most of them youngsters.

Bartness said at least 35 uniformed officers dispersed the crowd without incident.

Sun staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

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