No. 15 Dunbar's 2nd half stifles Western, 76-33

Poets limit No. 18 Doves to 1 point in last quarter

Girls basketball

January 29, 2003|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Dunbar center Ciarra Jones painted a whole different picture for the No. 15 Poets last night after No. 18 Western played them tough through the first half.

The 6-foot senior took command of the inside game and helped turn a close contest into a second-half runaway. Behind Jones' 19 points and 15 rebounds, the host Poets rolled past Western, 76-33, in a Baltimore City nonleague girls basketball game. The win ran the defending city champions' home-court winning streak to 62.

Jones scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a third quarter in which the Poets (13-3) got one good look after another at the basket. She hit four follow shots and converted twice on fourth chances.

In the first half, the Doves (13-4) held their own on the inside thanks to freshman Zhondria Benn, who grabbed nine of her 13 rebounds and had five blocks. But in the second half, Western managed just seven points - one in the final quarter.

In the third quarter, the Poets out-rebounded Western 19-6. Jolunda Leake, Shalane Price (25 points) and India Johnson combined for 11 rebounds.

"At first we didn't penetrate as well as we could, then we thought about how much we wanted to win. This is an important game, so penetrate, get their big people in foul trouble and do what we have to do at the bottom," said Jones, whose team had a 55-38 rebounding edge.

After Ashley Burham's layup to open the second half cut the Dunbar lead to 32-27, the Poets reeled off 11 straight points. They extended that spurt to a 24-4 run to go up 56-31 with 37 seconds left.

Western scored the first point of the fourth quarter, but was shut down by the Poets for the final 7:28.

"I think we got a little bit overconfident," said Western senior Lauren Brooks. "We were close and we were thinking we could win the whole deal, but they took it to us. They were ready more than us."

With a bench about twice as deep as Western's, Dunbar simply wore down the Doves. The Poets also held Jeanell Hughes, the area's top scorer with a 24.4 average, to 14 points.

"I just played straight-up defense on her," said Poets guard India Johnson. "I tried to step up on her, because she penetrates a lot."

Last night's game could be a preview of the city championship. Dunbar already has clinched the Division II title; Western needs a win over Walbrook to take Division I.

Western first-year coach Donchez Graham, an assistant to Dunbar coach Wardell Selby the previous four years, reminded his team that two years ago, the Poets won the regular-season game by a similar margin. But the Doves came back to take the city title, 53-51.

"Dunbar's a great team ... and they just showed us what a three-time state champion is all about. If nothing more, my ladies got a lesson. Now we'll see how they respond," Graham said.

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