Dunbar shifts into gear, 70-57

Poets survive Poolesville, turnovers, continue quest for 3rd straight state title

Class 1A South girls basketball

High Schools

March 02, 2002|By Nathan Max | Nathan Max,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It certainly wasn't pretty, but the result still counted.

In a game featuring 64 turnovers, the fourth-ranked Dunbar girls basketball team fended off scrappy Poolesville, 70-57, yesterday at Dunbar to win the Class 1A South Regional title.

Senior guard Toni Kennedy scored a game-high 21 points, including three three-pointers, and had eight steals, two assists and a blocked shot to lead the two-time defending state champion Poets (25-1) to their third consecutive regional title, 19th consecutive victory and 49th consecutive home victory.

Dunbar will next face the 1A North Regional champion, Bohemia Manor of Cecil County, at 9 p.m. Friday at UMBC in the state semifinals. Bohemia Manor defeated North East of Cecil County, 52-49, in overtime last night to win the North Region.

Junior center Ciarra Jones added 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds as Dunbar held a 37-24 rebounding advantage. Sophomore forward Jolunda Leake scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

"I guess we underestimated them a little," Jones said. "We didn't expect them to come as hard as they did. They came with their `A' game, but we came with our `A+' game."

Poolesville (21-4) of Montgomery County has never won a region title but played the Poets tough. After Dunbar used a 17-4 run to build a 25-13 lead with 7:48 remaining in the second quarter, the Indians responded with a 15-4 run to close within 29-28.

Dunbar led 35-31 at halftime and opened the second half with a 13-1 run, sparked by a three-pointer and conventional three-point play by Kennedy to extend the advantage to 48-32 with 5:29 remaining. Dunbar forced Poolesville into 13 turnovers in the third quarter as both teams committed 32 turnovers each for the game.

"That's our style of play, to come out strong in the second half," Kennedy said. "We know if we can get easy buckets in the second half, the game is going to go in our favor."

For Poolesville, which played no seniors, junior Lisa Ganassa scored a team-high 13 points and sophomore Gretchen Auer added 10 points.

"In the beginning of the season, when we moved down to 1A, I was telling my players that we would still have to work hard," said Dunbar coach Wardell Selby, who led the Poets to 2A state titles in 2000 and 2001. "There are teams down there with a lot of pride. Had we not been on our game, we would have been on the `L' side of this today."

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