Dunbar `D' does in Bohemia Manor, 58-34

Poets seek title threepeat against Smithsburg today

Girls Class 1A semifinals

High schools basketball

March 09, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

To most fans at the Class 1A state girls basketball semifinals, the "Big D" would be Dunbar, which has won the past two 2A championships, but to the No. 4 Poets, the "Big D" is defense.

The Poets' swarming full-court press overwhelmed previously unbeaten Bohemia Manor last night and propelled Dunbar to a 58-34 victory in their 1A semifinal at UMBC's RAC Arena.

The Eagles, from Chesapeake City in Cecil County, simply could not contend with a pesky Poets defense that hounded them into traveling violations and ball-handling mistakes. They turned the ball over 30 times - 19 of them to Poets steals.

When the Eagles did manage to get the ball inside, they met 6-foot center Ciarra Jones, who had six blocks and forced at least as many turnovers.

"Coming into the season, we had this mentality that defense wins games," said Jones, who led the Poets with 12 points. "We wanted it more than they did, and we pushed ourselves harder and we worked harder. We all stated that we don't want to be repeats; we want to be threepeats."

The only 2001 champion in this year's tournament field, the Poets (25-1) go for their third straight state title in today's 6 p.m. final at UMBC against Smithsburg, a 62-47 winner over Mardela in the other semifinal yesterday.

In their first year in 1A, the Poets are coming off back-to-back 2A championships. A third title would put them in exclusive company. Not only has no other Baltimore City team won three state titles, only five teams in the girls state tournament's 30-year history have won three in a row.

The Eagles, who had just one solid ball-handler, senior guard Lissy Dean, had 11 turnovers in a 12-minute, 27-5 Poets run that broke the game open before halftime. Dunbar's guards, led by Bianca Sullivan and Toni Kennedy, hounded Dean and often created chaos in the Eagles back court.

"With one ball-handler, if we can't get it in her hands, we're in a lot of trouble," said coach Larry Garber, whose team fell to 22-1. "And we have not had a great deal of depth. We've been able to get away with that, but in a game like this, to try and put full-court pressure on them and not get any rest, it's just impossible."

Coach Wardell Selby's Poets, on the other hand, run 13 deep. That depth pays off by allowing the Poets to push harder on defense.

"Rather than go back and play the zone and let teams dictate to us, we try to dictate to them," Selby said. "We picked up a lot of fouls playing aggressive man-to-man defense. But that's just a trademark we've had, and we're going to stay in it."

The fouls ended up not hurting the Poets much. No one fouled out, and the Eagles struggled at the free-throw line, making just 11 of 29.

Heading into the final quarter, the Poets had run their lead to 41-21.

That depth showed on offense as well, with 10 Poets scoring points. Kennedy scored 10. Sullivan and Jolunda Leake added eight each.

In the other semifinal, Smithsburg (23-3) also kept Mardela from finishing the season unbeaten, ending the Eastern Shore Warriors' season at 24-1. The Leopards, who got 24 points from Eariel Gholson, built a 19-7 first quarter lead and never trailed.

DUNBAR-Kennedy 10, Sullivan 8, Williams 7, Leake 8, Jones 12, Johnson 1, Price 2, Chase 4, Melvin 2, Woody 4. Totals 27 1-4 58.

BOHEMIA MANOR-Lee 7, Dean 9, McPoland 2, Davis 12, Stopper 2, Thacker 1, Drake 1. Totals 11 11-29 34. Half: D, 31-11.

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