Dunbar rides coattails to win

47 from Taylor, Robinson lift No. 2 over Mervo, 72-69

Boys basketball

January 12, 2002|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Experience paid huge dividends for the Dunbar boys basketball team last night.

The No. 2 Poets held off a challenge by No. 12 Mervo for a 72-69 victory, clinching first place in Division I of the Baltimore City League. Dunbar earned the opportunity to defend its city title next month.

Senior guards James Taylor and Jajuan Robinson combined for 47 points to lead host Dunbar (10-2, 7-0 league). Junior forward Paul Frazier scored 28 to lead Mervo (8-4, 5-1).

"They're seasoned veterans," said Dunbar coach Eric Lee of his seniors. "And they know how to win."

Robinson's spinning layup with 45 seconds left gave the Poets a 70-69 lead. The Mustangs turned the ball over, and Maurice Barksdale, who was 7-for-10 from the foul line in the final quarter, converted two free throws with 20 seconds left.

Mervo tried to tie the score on Frazier's three-point attempt, which skimmed off the rim; Brandon Wells got the rebound with seven seconds left and tried another game-tying shot in the corner, which rimmed out, bringing an end to the Mustangs' upset aspirations.

Playing its entire season on the road this season because of gym renovations, Mervo was on the verge of a groundbreaking triumph over the East Baltimore power, leading 67-61 with 1:49 left. But consecutive turnovers helped the Poets close to within 67-65 with 1:23 left.

A free throw by junior Antwon Williams (15 points) presented Mervo with a 68-65 cushion with 1:10 left, then Robinson got the ball up court to Taylor for a layup and a foul. He completed the three-point play, pulling Dunbar even at 68. Williams hit one of two free throws to break the tie with 58 seconds left before Robinson gave Dunbar its final lead.

"The whole game, I was frustrated ... I wasn't making nothing," said Robinson, who scored eight points in the fourth quarter. "But at the end, me and J.T. [Taylor] had to take the game."

It looked as if Taylor, a second-team All-Metro player, would carry to Dunbar to victory. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard had 17 of his game-high 31 points in the opening 16 minutes, helping the Poets to a 32-26 halftime lead. They led 43-30 with 2:46 left in the third quarter after a three-pointer by Taylor.

The Mustangs ran off nine points to get back into contention and later used a 19-6 burst to claim a 59-53 lead. The Mustangs equaled their largest lead at 67-61 after two free throws by Williams, but they went the final 3:35 without a field goal.

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