COLLEGE PARK -- After a tight first half, Dunbar got down to business in the third period and pulled away from New Town, 63-48, advancing to its 13th state final and in search of its 11th championship since 1993.
The No. 10 Poets will play for the Class 1A state championship at 1 p.m. today at Comcast Center against Allegany, a 70-61 winner over Cambridge-South Dorchester. The Campers (21-2) last won a state title in 1993. It was their sixth.
The Poets (20-7) have won three state titles in a row. Dunbar has made it to the final in its class all 13 times it has advanced to the state semifinals.
Yesterday, the Poets were lethargic in the first half and had a 27-26 lead at the break before going on a 14-0 run in the third period for a 50-34 lead.
Junior guard Maurice Portee led three Poets in double figures with a game-high 22 points. Delano Johnson, a 6-foot-7 senior center, had 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds and senior forward Marcus Taylor had 13 points.
"We kind of felt them out in the first half to see how we were going to attack," Dunbar coach Eric Lee said. "We wanted to get it inside to Johnson and open up the floor. We were shooting too many jump shots in the first half."
Johnson had six of his points in the third period.
"We missed some shots and went cold in the third period," said New Town first-year coach Michael Smith, whose school was playing in its first boys basketball state tournament. "We knew once they got the lead, they would spread it out."
Junior guard Corin Henry led the Titans (21-5) with 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists followed by 13 points and nine rebounds by Stuart Clark. Henry, who has scored more than 1,000 career points, got into foul trouble and got his fourth in the third period.
"Corin has unlimited energy and like the rest of our team, plays hard until the end," said Smith, who said the Dunbar mystique and tradition was a topic of conversation leading up to yesterday.
"We felt we could win the game, but yes, we talked about their going for an 11th state title and all of their tradition."
The Poets look to continue the tradition this afternoon by winning another state championship.
"Nothing less than a state championship will do," Johnson said. "A state championship is a good year for us."