Dunbar holds off Owings Mills, 64-53, for Class 1A title

Alston scores 13 in 4th quarter, leads Poets to 12th state title

  • The Poets celebrate their state championship on the Comcast Center floor.
The Poets celebrate their state championship on the Comcast… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
March 13, 2010|By Glenn Graham | glenn.graham@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK — Dunbar High, rich in basketball tradition, added to the program's legacy at yesterday's Class 1A state championship against surprise Owings Mills, bringing a burst of fourth-quarter offense and a collective defensive effort throughout to come away with a 64-53 win at the Comcast Center.

Junior guard Iakeem Alston came off the bench to score 13 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, enabling the No. 8 Poets to pull away in a game that remained close until the closing minutes.

The Poets finish the season with a 19-5 mark, capturing their 12th state title and first under third-year coach Cyrus Jones. Roderick Camphor also scored 14 points, Derrell Edwards finished with 13 and Corey Spence had 12.

"I'm overwhelmed right now with a lot of joy," said Dunbar coach Cyrus Jones, who was happy that his seniors could go out on top. "They put in a lot of hard work through the years -- listening to me, listening to our coaches -- all our sprints, all the running with bricks and not really getting a lot of the attention they deserve. We went through some adversity this year in particular, and we were able to fight through it and come out on top."

With a 37-36 lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, the Poets found their shooting touch when it was needed the most. Alston scored eight of the Poets' next 10 points, helping them take a 49-42 lead that would increase to 57-45 when Edwards hit consecutive baskets with under two minutes to play. The Poets' bench erupted minutes later.

"It was coming down to the wire and I just tried to help my team out," Alston said.

The Poets turned to two familiar sources to go on a 9-0 run midway through the first quarter to turn a 6-5 deficit into a 14-6 lead. Edwards, who tied a state record with seven 3s in the Poets' 67-56 semifinal win over Allegany, hit two more and Corey Spence had two steals and a basket in the run. But the Eagles responded with a 10-2 run of their own, as Isaac Brown's second basket with nine seconds left in the first quarter sent the game into the second quarter tied at 16.

Both teams struggled offensively in the second quarter -- each hitting just one field goal -- as the Eagles claimed a 20-19 advantage at the half.

"It feels good," Spence said. "Coming from last year, we didn't get down here, so we have nine seniors on the team and we had to leave with something to remember."

Saturday's loss doesn't diminish a fine season for the Eagles, who captured the program's first North region championship with a 60-55 win over Baltimore County rival Pikesville before edging the top seed, Snow Hill, 44-42, in Friday's semifinal to get the chance to play on the season's final day.

"They did something that no other team at our school had done," Owings Mills coach Rick Epps said. "They got out of our region and made it to the state championship game. I'm proud of these young men.

"They fought through adversity, they were underdogs and nobody thought they could do it," he said. "It proves that if you work hard and believe in each other, good things will come out of it. We didn't come up a winner today, but we're still a winner because we are here."

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