Dunbar pounds Allegany to repeat as champ

No. 3 Poets finish season with 15 straight wins after 68-43 rout of Campers

Class 1A state boys basketball

High Schools

March 14, 2004|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLLEGE PARK - During its impressive run of state titles, Dunbar has had a couple of unforgettable defeats.

In 1994, Thomas Johnson dismantled the Poets, and two seasons ago Pocomoke rattled the East Baltimore power.

So when Allegany shot out to a 10-point first-quarter lead against Poets in yesterday's Class 1A state championship game at Comcast Center, it had the makings of another collapse. This time, though, was different for the No. 3 Poets, who immediately stormed back, posting a 68-43 decision to capture their ninth championship in 12 seasons.

In closing with 15 straight victories, Dunbar (23-2) becomes the first team since Joppatowne in 1990-91 to claim back-to-back 1A titles. The Poets' nine championships tie them with Blair of Montgomery County for third all-time.

Camonte Griffin had 14 points and four assists for the Poets, and Dante Blanton-Holcomb added 13 points and four rebounds. Shane McDade and Donavin Vinson led Allegany (24-3) with 13 points each.

"We underestimated them," said Dunbar coach Eric Lee, who joined Paul Smith as Poets coaches with three state championships. "We didn't really come out [of] the gates to play. But once we got flowing and found out we can put pressure on them, we kept applying it."

The Poets' quickness was too much for the western Maryland school, as they forced 22 turnovers. After failing behind early, Dunbar outscored the Campers by 35.

"Not again," said Poets senior guard Byron Roundtree about the deficit. "We decided to play good defense, make them turn the ball over and turn them into buckets."

Roundtree (eight points and five rebounds) was a reserve on the Poets' 2002 squad that was handed an 18-point loss by Pocomoke. Yesterday, he was part of a Poets guard group that produced 42 points, 14 rebounds and five steals. The Poets shot nearly 60 percent from the field including 20-for-29 in the second half.

Griffin contributed to the Poets' gaudy percentage, coming off the bench to shoot 7-for-9. Griffin, Roundtree and Blanton-Holcomb did all the scoring in a 12-0 run to start the second quarter, and Dunbar didn't trail again.

"I was trying [to] keep my head and keep them in the game as well," Griffin said. "When my number was called, I was ready to play. We might [have] had some mishaps before the second quarter, but we stayed with it."

With McDade adding 10 points in the final five minutes of the first quarter, including two three-pointers, Allegany closed with a 16-4 run for a 20-10 lead. Within two minutes of the second quarter, Dunbar had regained the lead on a layup by Griffin after a steal by Roundtree. The Poets led 26-22 at the half after running more than three minutes off the clock with Allegany in a zone.

"If they wanted to sit back there, let them sit," Lee said, "We'll take home a one- or two-point victory, it doesn't matter."

The Poets glided past Allegany when they went to man-to-man, extending the lead to 16 after three quarters. The Campers, who have a state-record 15 championships, were limited to 8-of-25 shooting in the second half.

DUNBAR-Griffin 14, Chaptman 2, Jenifer 2, Johnson 6, Roundtree 8, Irby 10, Blanton-Holcomb 13, Singletarry 8. Totals 31 6-8 68.

ALLEGANY-Grady 7, McDade 13, Vinson 13, Lease 4, Paige 4, Keller 2. Totals 18 3-6 43. Half: D 26-22.

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