Dunbar rolls to return trip to state final

Havre de Grace no match for No. 2 Poets, 83-45

team faces Pocomoke for title

Class 1A boys basketball

High Schools

March 15, 2003|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLLEGE PARK - Dunbar has become accustomed to playing in state championship games. The No. 2 Poets advanced to their 10th finals in 11 seasons, defeating Havre de Grace, 83-45, in an 1A semifinal game at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center yesterday.

But the longtime Baltimore power may be in an unusual position in today's finals.

The Poets may be considered the underdogs as they meet defending champ and unbeaten Pocomoke of Worchester County at 1 p.m. The Eastern Shore school, riding a 38-game winning streak, defeated South Hagerstown, 72-60, in the other semifinal.

The biggest win during the Warriors' run came at Dunbar's expense in last year's 1A finals, an 88-70 loss. While the game remains in the back of the Poets' minds, they're just happy to get an opportunity at an area-best eighth championship.

"They think we're the underdogs but we don't as a team," said senior guard Herman Hayes. "We think we're going to come out here, play together and get the win."

Twelve players scored for the Poets (24-2) with Hayes scoring 13 points and 10 each from senior guard Maurice Barksdale and Shawn Griffin. Senior guard Richard Simpson led Havre de Grace (17-7) with a game-high 19 points and Richard Johnson added 13 and a game-high 13 rebounds.

In its first semifinal since 1996, Havre de Grace was knocked out early, going nearly 6:30 without a field goal and trailed 32-13 at halftime. The Warriors, who used three-point shooting to reach the semifinals, never got in rhythm, missing 23 of 27 attempts.

"I think they got caught up in the moment a little bit," said Brooks, whose team shot 16-for-66. "We needed a few [three-pointers] to stay in the game and they weren't falling tonight. They were a little more athletic than we were."

The only year Dunbar didn't reach the state finals was in 2000, when it lost to Edmondson in the 2A North region championship game.

Dunbar won state titles in its first four trips before losing the 1997 3A finale to Frederick's Thomas Johnson, which was led by former Maryland Terp and current Houston Rocket Terence Morris. Last year's defeat was more stunning, especially after the Poets rolled up over 100 points in a semifinal victory over Chesapeake-Baltimore County.

"I think we took them for granted," said Barksdale. "They shot the ball well and we didn't, that was the difference."

The Poets went on a 14-0 run to gain a 24-7 lead in the second quarter, using two three-pointers and Barksdale converting two steals into uncontested layups. Dunbar extended its advantage to 51-24 after three quarters before racing to 32 points in the last period. Poets coach Eric Lee said his team knows today's finale won't be as easy.

"We're the underdogs, they have something we want," said Lee, seeking his second title in three seasons. " ... Right now, they have the crown and you go to them to win it. That's how it is."

D-Barksdale 10, Jenifer 2, Thompson 8, Roundtree 2, Whitlock 4, Hayes 13, Maybank 8, S. Griffin 10, Selby 8, Waddy 9, D. Scott 2, R. Scott 7. Totals 33 13-22 83. H-Johnson 13, Simpson 19, Gregory 4, Minor 3, Smith 2, Hawkins 2, Shivers 2. Totals 16 9-16 45. Half: D, 32-14.

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