No. 3 Dunbar ends Clippers’ city title repeat hopes, move to 17-0; Phillip scores 27 (VIDEO HERE!!)
by Derek Toney
After his team’s victory Friday, Dunbar High boys’ basketball coach Diego Jones didn’t want to make a correlation with the 1991-92 squad. The Poets are in impressive company after getting past Patterson, 58-57, in a Baltimore City Division I contest in east Baltimore.
Senior wing Da’Shawn Phillip scored 27 points for Dunbar, and junior Jamal West added 14. Zac Blackwell finished with 17 points for Patterson, and Ty Thomas had 14.
The Poets combined a clutch performance from Phillips and timely contributions to improve to 17-0, their best start since 1991-92 when they finished 29-0 and No. 1 in the nation by USA Today. The Orleans Street school is the only undefeated in the Baltimore region.
“It was just a team effort. We had to step it up or we were going to lose,” said Phillip. “We don’t want to lose.“
After Dunbar (5-0 Division I) blew an 11-point second half lead, Phillip buried a 3-pointer giving the visitors a 52-49 advantage with 1 minute, 38 seconds left in regulation. Phillip corralled the ball after a West block, and Davonta Ayers found West for a layup with 1:02 left.
With the Poets up 56-52, West swiped away Thomas’ shot and Ayers dished off to Phillip for a layup with 12.5 seconds remaining. Ayers, a sophomore, starting in place of injured senior Malik McCormick, had three assists in the final period.
“We had adversity since the beginning of the season and have found a way to put it behind us and build week-by-week,” said Jones. “No matter what’s on the scoreboard, they keep fighting and believe in each other.”
Trailing 24-23 at halftime, Dunbar went a 12-0 run, featuring seven points from Phillip, a 3-pointer from Zep Esguerra and a Damon Miller basket off an Ayers steal, for a 35-24 advantage. The Poets led 43-34 entering the fourth, but Patterson, sparked by a technical foul and three straight Dunbar turnovers, stormed back.
The defending city champs went up 45-44 on Gerard Mungo’s 3-pointer with 6:17 left in regulation. Sophomore post Isaac James’ short baseline jumper with 3:45 remaining put the Kane Street school in front, 47-46.
Dunbar regained the lead on Phillip’s 3-point play with 2:42 left. The wiry 6-foot-5 wing stepped back off his defender and dropped a dagger from the elbow, breaking a 49-49 tie.
Though Phillips, who scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half, is the Poets’ primary offensive threat, he says this squad is different from last season’s edition that started 13-0.
“We didn’t play our roles last year. This year, everybody knows their role,” said Phillip, who has strong interest from James Madison University.
Mungo finished with 13 points from Patterson (8-10, 2-3 Division I), which had its city title repeat hopes ended Friday. Inexperience and injuries have hindered the Clippers this season, but coach Harry Martin said applauded his team’s moxie Friday.
“That third quarter run really put us on our heels and had to fight an uphill battle,” said Martin. “We kept battling, but they [Dunbar] made enough plays.”
The Poets control their destiny for a spot in the city final with games with No. 9 Lake Clifton and fourth-ranked Poly next week. Both matches will take place on Bob Wade Court inside Dunbar’s fabled gym where numerous championship banners hang including three mythical national title banners.
Jones, a starter on the 1991-92 national title squad, didn’t want to compare the experience as a player to coaching an undefeated team.
“Trying to be undefeated isn’t our team goal. Of course, we want to win games,” said Jones. “There are other aspects, not worrying about being undefeated. Hopefully, our guys keep listening and take things one game at a time.”
No. 3 Dunbar 58, Patterson 57
Dunbar – Phillip 27, West 14, Miller 6, Colbert 4, Esguerra 3, Ayers 2, Hunt 2. Totals 20 14-24 58.
Patterson – Blackwell 17, Thomas 14, Mungo 13, Jones 9, James 4. Totals 22 10-18 57.
Dunbar 12 11 20 15 – 58
Patterson 11 13 10 23 – 57