Dunbar runs past Eastern Shore foe into title game

Poets seek title repeat against Allegany High after winning, 77-54

Class 1A state boys basketball

High Schools

March 13, 2004|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLLEGE PARK - Midway through the final quarter of yesterday's Dunbar-Cambridge/South Dorchester Class 1A state semifinal contest, a young spectator ran onto the floor at Comcast Center while the Poets were coming down with the ball.

That was the only thing that slowed them down.

The No. 3 Poets will again play for a state championship after storming past the Eastern Shore school's team, 77-54. This afternoon at 1, Dunbar (23-2) will play Allegany, from Cumberland. The Campers, owners of a state-best 15 titles, defeated Elkton, 79-50, in yesterday's other semifinal.

When Dunbar came to Comcast Center a year ago, the memory of an embarrassing 2002 title game lost to Pocomoke fueled the East Baltimore power to the championship. A victory today would give the Poets nine championships since Baltimore schools joined the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association in the 1992-93 school year.

"I guess it's the banners that goes up in the gym, and they want their names on it," said Poets coach Eric Lee. "That's the way you motivate them and get them to achieve."

"When we came into the season, people were saying we might not win any games," said guard Nathan Irby, who had five steals yesterday. "We said we were going to come together and take it all the way."

Dunbar won the city championship for the first time since 2001 and has an opportunity to become the first team since Joppatowne (1990 and 1991) to win consecutive 1A state titles.

Camonte Griffin and Donte Blanton-Holcomb had 11 points apiece to lead a balanced attack for the Poets. Craig Singletarry had 10 points and 12 rebounds. DeAndre Jones led Cambridge (22-2) with a game-high 24 points.

The Poets got the ball into the paint early, and their back court finished up as the built leads as large as 27 points. Dunbar easily handled the Vikings on the boards, 60-37 (29-16 offensive).

"We wanted to keep pounding inside to Kyle Johnson and make them play defense," said Lee. "They're much smaller than us, so we wanted to use it to our advantage."

The Poets scored the game's first eight points with Johnson (eight points, five rebounds) and Jennifer (10 points, seven rebounds), getting the inside touches. Dunbar led by as many as 12 in the first half, but Cambridge crept back within six at 33-27 on a dunk by JamuelAskins.

Dunbar quickly regained momentum with Griffin scoring its final four points including a three-pointer at the buzzer for a 10-point halftime advantage. The Poets kept going at the start of the second half, turning three Vikings turnovers into six points in a 8-0 run, advancing the lead to 45-27.

"I told them the first three minutes were very important," said Lee. "Once we got up, I told them, `Let's put them away, and not let them get no momentum.'"

CSD-Jones 24, Askins 5, Kincaid 5, Pinkett 2, Tilghman 8, Dashiell 4, White 3. Totals 20 11-21 54. D-Jenifer 10, Johnson 8, Chaptman 4, Roundtree 8, Irby 5, Singleterry 10, Blanton-Holcomb 11, Griffin 11, Taylor 3, Carter 4, Whitlock 4, Keitt 2, Carter 1. Totals 34 10-18 79. Half: Dunbar 33-27.

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