Dunbar stays on roll, 75-67

No. 4 Southwestern's plans for championship game take hit vs. No. 3 Poets

Boys basketball

High Schools

February 09, 2005|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

If, according to veteran coach Terry Leverett, his Southwestern Sabers had the mind-set of the players who wear the gold and maroon at Dunbar, he would be a happy man today, knowing his team took a giant step toward playing in the Baltimore City championship game.

Instead, Leverett's No. 4 Sabers lost, 75-67, at No. 3 Dunbar last night, as the Poets took a one-game lead in Division II and all but clinched a berth in the Feb. 23 city title game.

Dunbar (13-2) expects to defend its city crown at home, likely against No. 2 Walbrook, which is running away with Division I.

Led by Craig Singletary's game-high 22 points, the Poets had five players in double figures, and 6-foot-4 Dilano Johnson dominated the boards with a game-high 16 rebounds.

"Dilano has really stepped up on the boards for us while Kyle is not playing," said Singletary, referring to 6-foot-9 Kyle Johnson [no relation to Dilano], who is out taking an SAT program but will return in two weeks. "And we've been playing great defense."

Johnson bested Southwestern's Juawan Rheubottom, who came into the game leading the metro area in rebounds at 17.5 a game, 16-10.

Singletary and Dante Blanton-Holcomb each scored seven points in the last period to keep the Poets in control.

"In all the years [14] I've been coaching, the Dunbar players believe they are going to win more than any team we've played against," said Leverett, lamenting the loss that left his Sabers 18-3 overall.

"They have that mystique, and opposing teams can look up at the rafters in their gym and see all the state championship banners [nine]. Their kids see all the tradition in their gym and say, `I can play on this team.' "

In contrast, Leverett emphasized to his players in the locker room after the game that, `We can't beat the good teams like Dunbar and Walbrook [the Sabers lost a cross-division game to the Warriors, 54-38] if we keep turning the ball over and missing our free throws."

Last night, neither team was able to take a double-digit lead, with the biggest first-half advantage being Dunbar's at 16-10. The Sabers, however, led 38-37 at the break.

By the end of the third period, the Poets had a 53-46 lead and, in the last period, took the biggest lead of the night at 65-56 with 3:15 remaining on a two-handed dunk by Johnson.

Southwestern cut the margin to 65-61 on two free throws by Richard Myers (16 points) with 1:43 left and got a layup by Jamal Barney, who had a team-high 18 points, with 1:20 left to make it 68-63.

But three turnovers would follow, and the Sabers finished the period making 10 of 16 free throws and were 20 of 34 for the game to Dunbar's 12 for 15 in the last period and 22 for 32 overall.

"I thought we played very well overall," said Dunbar coach Eric Lee. "We knew this was an important game to get back to the city championship."

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