Pocomoke unseats 7-time champ Dunbar

Defense fails No. 5 Poets

Byrd coaches 400th win, first state crown, 88-70

Boys Class 1A final

March 10, 2002|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- As the final seconds ticked off the clock in Dunbar's 88-70 Class 1A state championship defeat yesterday, Eric Lee, coach of the Baltimore City power, sat on the team bench and buried his face in his hands.

By contrast, there was little in the Pocomoke players' reaction to indicate that this was not meant to be. It was the first title for 25-year coach David Byrd, who celebrated his team's 14th straight victory on his 50th birthday. Yet he sat calmly, stoically looking straight ahead until allowing an emotional outburst during the post-game awards ceremony.

"It's my 400th career win, and it's a great victory, not only for Pocomoke, but for the entire Eastern Shore," said Byrd, whose Warriors (25-2) were playing in their 13th final four in school history and sixth in his tenure.

"This is going to sell a lot of newspapers in Ocean City tomorrow," Byrd said. "There are going to be a lot of people at home who are going to want to read about how we beat mighty Dunbar."

The Warriors' win denied fifth-ranked Dunbar (21-5) its eighth state championship, as the Poets entered the game with a 16-1 record in final four appearances -- last losing to Terrence Morris-led Thomas Johnson in the 1997 3A state title game.

Maurice Barksdale (23 points) came off the bench to lead the Poets, who were simply out-hustled and were out-rebounded 40-36. James Taylor scored 13 points -- five below his average -- and the Warriors limited JuJuan Robinson (18 ppg average) to six points. Dunbar's 6-foot-9 Michael Thompson had eight points and six rebounds.

Even Lee had to admire the poise of a team that started four juniors and one senior.

"They had a great strategy, they played good defense, and they executed it well," said Lee, whose Poets crushed Chesapeake of Baltimore County, 116-41, in Friday's semifinal. "They shot well from the field, and we didn't box out well under the boards, where their second effort hurt us."

JoVon Schoolfield, only 6 feet tall, led the Warriors with 29 points (including 6-for-6 free-throw shooting) and grabbed 10 rebounds. Eddie Miller, Pocomoke's second-tallest starter at 6-2, scored 26 points on 10-for-16 field-goal shooting and had 13 rebounds. Gerry Laws had 13 points, going 5-for-5 at the line, and TyRon Northam scored 10 points and had eight rebounds.

Miller scored 14 points in the first half, eight in the first period. His buzzer-beating jumper cleared the outstretched hands of Dunbar's 6-6 Chris Frederick for a 36-34 Pocomoke halftime lead. And Miller also beat the buzzer with a three-pointer for a 57-49 lead heading into the fourth period.

"They sank their shots, and they did a good job on us with the triangle-and-two," said Taylor. "We always thought there was a possibility of a comeback, but our defense hurt us. Of course, it's disappointing, but someone's got to win and someone's got to lose."

Pocomoke showed it meant business from the start, jumping out to an 11-2 lead. A 10-0 run by Dunbar, including two putbacks and a dunk by Thompson, gave the Poets a 12-11 lead. But the Warriors outscored the Poets 13-9 for a 24-21 lead entering the second period and never trailed again.

The crushing blow to Dunbar came in the third period, when the Warriors' penetration resulted in successive reverse layups by Miller, Schoolfield, Laws and Allen Justis -- all against Thompson, who was then replaced.

"Without their big man in there, we could take it inside more freely and we knew they couldn't hang with us," Miller said. "We were always able to feel like there was somebody open, and they just couldn't run with us after that."

DUNBAR --Hayes 6, Thompson 8, Taylor 13, Robinson 6, Barksdale 23, Roundtree 1, Waddy 6, Frederick 5, Garland 2. Totals 28 11-16 70. POCOMOKE --Miller 26, Laws 13, Northam 10, Tull 8, Schoolfield 29, Justis 2. Totals 28 28-40 88. Half: P, 36-34.

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