Oak. Mills is bounced in 1A South by Dunbar

Late free throws send Poets to regional final

High Schools

March 01, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Dunbar and Oakland Mills both made it to the state boys basketball finals last year. Dunbar won the Class 2A title, its sixth overall. Oakland Mills lost the 1A title to Snow Hill in the finals.

Dunbar dropped down to Class 1A with Oakland Mills this season, however, and last night eliminated the Scorpions from state-title contention in a close South region semifinal contest at Dunbar, 66-60.

The Poets will play host to Poolesville, which beat Brunswick, 63-51, last night, for the region title tomorrow.

With 1:25 to play, Dunbar led by three points. And after Dunbar's James Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:10 left, the Scorpions had a chance to tie.

Instead, C. J. King of Oakland Mills missed a long three-point attempt with 41 seconds left, and the fourth-seeded Scorpions were forced to send the top-seeded Poets to the line.

No. 5-ranked Dunbar (19-5) responded by hitting five of six free throws down the stretch.

"I had played with a couple of their guys in Columbia, so I knew what they were capable of," said James Taylor, who sparked the Dunbar victory with 16 points. "My hat goes off to them. They played a good game. We underestimated them. Most people expected a blowout."

Unranked Oakland Mills (13-11) played a strong first quarter, racing to an 18-11 lead with 1:15 left. Dunbar finished that quarter strongly with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 19-18.

"A lot of people thought they'd blow us out," said Andre Brooks of Oakland Mills. "We didn't finish with a win, but we brought our `A' game and played the best we could."

Brooks led the Scorpions with 20 points. Varnaz Nicholson scored 19 and Greg Braukus 16.

"In the first half, our jump shots were falling short and they were keying on JuJuan Robinson, so we had to go to the hole," said Taylor, whose Poets led at halftime, 32-30.

Oakland Mills played a box-and-one on Robinson and held him to nine points. Taylor and teammate Maurice Barksdale (11 points) responded to the challenge.

Taylor, Robinson and Byron Selby each scored six points in the third quarter when the Poets gradually pulled away to a 10-point lead.

"We played our game in the third quarter," said Taylor.

Brooks scored 10 points in that quarter for Oakland Mills, but drew his fourth foul with 1:11 left in the period.

"They're a much better team than their record," Poets coach Eric Lee said. "Taylor, [Bryan] Roundtree and Barksdale stepped up for us."

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