Dunbar High’s boys’ basketball team thinks it’s been underappreciated this season. That won’t be a problem, especially if its’ performance Friday is an indication.
The No. 3 Poets routed No. 11 Owings Mills, 73-51, at the 15th annual Basketball Academy at Coppin State College. Donte Pretlow and Evan Singletary each scored 14 points for Dunbar (11-0 overall).
The east Baltimore school overwhelmed the Eagles (13-1) at the start of the second half, turning a rematch of last year’s Class 1A state title game into a resounding mismatch. The defending state champ Poets have won 20 straight decisions dating back to last season.
“We haven’t gotten any credit all year. Coming into the preseason, nobody thought we would be where we are right now,” said Dunbar coach Diego Jones. “The kids have worked hard and brought into what we’re trying to do.”
“That’s our motivation, that’s what makes us go play hard every game,” said Pretlow, a senior guard.
The Poets swarmed Owings Mills, holding the Baltimore County squad without a field goal for nearly five minutes in the third quarter. It equaled an 18-3 run, capped by a steal and dunk by Iakeem Alston, for a 50-31 advantage.
Dunbar’s assault continued at the start of fourth with a 13-0 run as a free throw by Roderick Hairston gave the Poets their largest lead at 68-39. The Poets constantly interrupted Owings Mills, in half and full court, leading to transition baskets.
“We got off to a good start and they started to comeback off loose balls,” said Pretlow, who had four steals. “The coaches at halftime told us stay focused and get all the loose balls.
We started playing 55 man-to-man and they gave us the ball. If we play defense, it was going to come easy. The next thing you know, we look up and we’re up 20.”
The Poets led 26-16 in the second quarter, then Owings Mills found some offensive rhythm with Ahmaad Wilson (team-high 16 points) and Tyson Smith each dropping a three-pointer in an 8-0 surge to pull even at 28. With a couple of seconds remaining in the first half, Devante Wallace regained the lead for Dunbar with a three-pointer.
The Eagles scored the opening basket in the third quarter then everything fell apart. Owings Mills coach Richard Epps said his squad was overmatched.
“A young team that’s never been in a big game liked this and it showed. We just didn’t step up to the challenge,” said Epps. “The turnovers killed us; they had a glorified layup line. At the end of the day, it’s another game on the schedule.”
Owings Mills look to bounce Saturday against No. 10 Lake Clifton Saturday at Coppin State while Dunbar has another Baltimore County stronghold in Parkville. The Poets host Poly Tuesday afternoon.
The schedule heats for Dunbar at the start of February with defending Baltimore City league champ Edmondson and No. 1 Patterson (at Morgan State University) on back-to-back days. Jones said Poets are among the elite in the city league.
“We have no superstars, nobody’s worried about getting the limelight,” said Jones. “They’re buying into the system; they’re playing together and playing extremely well defensively. That’s been the difference.”