Wright scores 40 to lead Dunbar girls to 1A state championship

March 12, 2011|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

Dunbar's Michelle Wright talked earlier this season about adding another state championship banner to the storied walls of basketball fame in the Poets' East Baltimore gym. Saturday night in the state Class 1A title game, she made sure her name would be on it.

The 5-foot-9 junior forward scored 40 points and grabbed 21 rebounds to lead the No. 9 Poets (20-4) to their fifth state girls basketball championship, 80-62, against a talented but overmatched Northern of Garrett County team at UMBC's RAC Arena.

Wright became only the fifth player in the tournament's 39-year history and the first since 1990 to score 40 or more points. The record is 49, set in 1986 by Catoctin's Tammy Joy. Wright's 21 rebounds matched the entire Northern team.

"My team, they just knew when to find me and they knew I wasn't going to let them down. They wanted me to get the ball," Wright said after her performance in front of a Poets cheering section that included the boys team fresh off its 13th state title victory in College Park.

Wright and 6-3 senior center Oma-ahTayong (19 points, 15 rebounds) led a Dunbar inside game that scored 46 points in the paint and 27 on second chances. The Huskies (23-5), with no one over 5-10, struggled to battle the duo.

"The high-low game, you can tell that's their bread and butter," Northern coach Steve Fratz said. "We just lost assignment a little bit on that off-block side and they're schooled. [Tayong] gets it up at the foul line and Wright is so active. She moves without the ball so well and she's strong. She's got great leaping ability but she's so strong with her upper body, When she gets it on the block, she's going to finish it."

There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the Poets would look inside, especially after they used that same strategy to upset No. 3 and defending champion Joppatowne in Friday's semifinal.

"We scripted the first three plays and we were going inside," Poets coach Wardell Selby said. "If you didn't, then you'd need to come over to the side and see me. I figured with Oma-ah's height and Michelle's athletic ability, we could pound it and try to wear them down and we did. They stayed to the game plan for me."

The Huskies were within six late in the second half, but the Poets started to blow it open in the third quarter as Tayong and Wright combined for 12 points in a 14-1 run to open the second half. Candace DeShields banked in a runner for the Poets' biggest lead of the game, 56-34, with 3:16 left.

It didn't help the Huskies when stellar guard Kaitlynn Fratz went to the bench with four fouls with 5:58 left in the third quarter. Fratz, a 5-4 senior and the all-time leading scorer in Garrett County history, with more than 2,000 points, scored 17 of her 22 points in the first half and fouled out for the only time this season, less than a minute into the fourth quarter.

Just about everything went Dunbar's way in the second half, as they finished by outrebounding the Huskies, 50-21, and dishing out 17 assists, including six from DeShields.

For the Poets, who reached the state semifinals last year, their first title since a run of four in a row between 2000 and 2003 was particularly sweet.

"It feels good," Tayong said, "because I know that when I come back from whatever school I go to for college, I'll know that I'm a part of history for life. I can show my kids that."


D—Parker 3, Buie 5, Prilliman 2, James 2, Lawson 4, Wright 40, Tayong 19, DeShields 5. Totals 31 16-25 80.

N—McFarland 4, Butler 3, Fratz 22, McKenzie 19, Yommer 5, Brosnihan 4, Brenneman 4. Totals 19 18-31 62. Half: D, 42-33.

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