Iakeem Alston wasn’t too concerned about his slow start for Dunbar High’s boys’ basketball team, especially since the Poets were successful. Dunbar maintained its winning ways Monday, and Alston found his groove.

The junior guard posted a game-high 25 points as the No. 8 Poets routed 19th ranked River Hill, 70-43, at the Milford Mill Holiday Mixer. Devante Wallace added 14 points for Dunbar (6-0 overall).

The east Baltimore school led by as many as 30 points en route to their 12th consecutive decision dating back to last season’s run to the Class 1A state championship. Alston, 6-foot-2, was one of main reasons as he shined in his first varsity efforts at Comcast Center.

After an overanxious-like performance in the Poets’ victory over rival Lake Clifton last week, Alston was in a comfort zone Monday.

“My teammates picked me up, I know I had a bad game,” said Alston. “They told me don’t even worry about it, ‘next game we’re getting you into the flow of the offense.’”

“His game his penetrating, setting others up and getting in the open floor,” said Dunbar coach Diego Jones. “He gets in trouble sometimes trying to do that in half court, trying to attack instead of moving the ball around then attacking.”

The Poets led 39-27 at halftime as Alston had 15 points. He opened the second half with Dunbar’s first seven points, capped with a transition layup. Dunbar’s lead ballooned to 49-29 midway in the third quarter as Donte Pretlow got an offensive rebound, dribbled out and found Alston alone under the basket for an easy layup.

“It’s a matter of me staying humble and working harder in practice,” said Alston. “My teammates have faith in me.”

Alston and the Poets were originally slated to play in the Governor’s Challenge Mixer at the Wicomico Civic Center. Jones said the Poets had to pull out because Mervo, which was to share travel costs with the Poets, pulled out last week. Dunbar replaced Masonville Cove Academy in the Milford Mill field as Masonville had made prior arrangements to play in the Board 290 Tournament at Northwestern.

Known more recently as state football powerhouses, Dunbar and River Hill were on opposite sides of spectrum on the hardwood Monday. The Poets led from the opening basket, and overwhelmed River Hill (7-2) with its athleticism and transition play.

“We’re not going to see a team like that in Howard County. Oakland Mills is athletic, Dunbar can hurt you on every part of the floor,” said River Hill coach Matt Graves. “They dictated early with their pressure defense. We had matchup problems at every position.”

Senior guard Jordan Knisley led River Hill with 16 points, and Alex Standrowicz added 14. The Hawks will play Arundel Tuesday evening at 6:15 p.m. at Milford Mill while Dunbar takes on Glenelg at 4:30 p.m.