COLLEGE PARK -- Success at Comcast Center has simply become old hat for the Dunbar boys basketball team.
But Saturday afternoon, after an impressive 60-36 win over New Town produced a third straight Class 1A state championship, the No. 1 Poets had much more to celebrate.
They joined Allegany as having the most titles in state history with 14, and they accomplished the feat in a remarkable season that resembled the storied program’s past.
With their trademark team defense and balanced approach on offense, the Poets (24-3) also reclaimed neighborhood turf by capturing their first Baltimore City Division 1 championship since 2004 and further solidified their position as the area’s top-ranked team with a dominating performance in the state playoffs.
In Saturday’s final, the Poets played some of their finest basketball, with senior guard Evan Singletary providing a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds, and senior forwards Gavin Pettiford and Aaron Parham each adding 10 points. Defensively, the Poets forced 14 turnovers and limited New Town (21-6) to sub-30 percent shooting from the field.
“Third championship in a row, but I’m most impressed with the way we played today,” said Dunbar coach Cyrus Jones, who earned his 100th win in his fifth season at his alma mater. “As I said yesterday [following a 86-68 win over Pocomoke in the semifinals], we didn’t play our basketball on the defensive end, but we came out here today and I think we made a statement and showed exactly what we’re about.”
In jumping out to an 8-0 lead, the Poets got points from four different players. Leading 11-7 late in the first quarter, they scored the next 15 points to build a 26-7 lead with 2:43 to play in the half.
Singletary was the catalyst, charging to the basket for the first three baskets to start the second quarter. After Parham scored on a nifty reverse with 2:43 to play in the half for a 26-7 lead, the Titans finally scored a basket when Danny Shand (team-high 13 points) finished a driving layup with 2:03 to play.
Saturday’s win enabled the Poets to mark off the last of their three goals going into the season — claiming city, region and state titles.
“The first time coming together, we knew what we were capable of doing,” senior point guard Donte Pretlow said. “Every year, we come into the season counted out and underestimated, but that’s just motivation for us to come out every game, give it our all and leave it all out there on the floor.”
The Poets received an added bonus following the game when former Dunbar great Tyrone ”Muggsy” Bogues handed out the championship awards. Prior to joining the MPSSAA in 1993, Dunbar won 20 Maryland Scholastic Association titles.
“When you first come to Dunbar and hear about the tradition and the history and you learn about everything that happened, that’s motivation for us to keep it alive because we know what’s expected,” Pretlow said. “That means us playing hard every game. And when you actually see the people that laid the foundation, that’s a thrill for us and that makes us feel good.”
Class 1A state final(at Comcast Center)
No. 1 Dunbar 60, New Town 36
NT – Shand 13, Jones 1, Clarke 10, Brown 2, Cornelius 6, Wallace 2, Magginson 2. Totals: 14 4-15 36.
D – Parham 10, Singletary 19, Pretlow 7, Pettiford 10, Gibson 3, Harrison 9, Jones 2. Totals: 18 22-29 60.
Half: D, 26-11