No. 1 Dunbar comfortably found its way back to a familiar place Thursday, wrapping up the Class 1A South region with a 67-44 win over Ben Franklin-Masonville. The win sends the three-time defending state champions back to the state semifinals next week.
The Poets (24-2) will be making their 19th state tournament appearance with sights on a record 15th championship. They are currently tied with Allegany for most in Maryland history with 14.
Dunbar used a 9-0 run in the first quarter to build a 24-point halftime lead. Reserves Montaque Wright and Keshawn Hampton played lead roles with 13 points each. Daxter Miles also had 13 and Kamau Stokes finished with 11.
"It's always our goal to get to Comcast [Center, where the semifinals begin Thursday]," Dunbar coach Cyrus Jones said. "This year was a little different, a little more difficult because we have so many new faces that haven't been there before. We're happy right now to be in this position and need to realize this is the big stage now. We're here."
The Bayhawks enjoyed the program's most successful season, capturing their first Baltimore City Division 2 championship and finishing the season with a 21-4 mark.
No. 11 New Town 71, Pikesville 58: With less than a minute left in the third quarter and top-seeded New Town clinging to a four-point lead over visiting Pikesville in the Class 1A North championship game, Titans point guard Daniel Shand saw teammate Justin Brown wave his hand along the baseline.
Shand fed Brown an alley-oop that the senior flushed home with 34 seconds left.
After Damien Hamler's rebound at the other end, Shand went coast-to-coast for a three-point play that pushed the lead to 50-41 with 11 seconds left in the quarter.
Pikesville (16-9) never got any closer as the Titans (22-3) closed out a victory and earned their second straight trip to College Park for the state tournament's final four.
"It changed the whole momentum of the game," Brown, who finished with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds, said of the dunk. "That's kind of what dunks do. It just got us going, and we kept the lead throughout the whole fourth quarter."
In the first half, nobody scored more than Pikesville's Jamelle Christian, who had 16 of his team-high 18 points. Still, the Titans led 32-28 at halftime.
New Town sealed the deal by sinking 14 of 16 free throws in the second half. Shand, who finished with 21 points, five assists and three steals, made six of eight free throws in the final 71 seconds.
"We prepare for these kind of moments and so far we've responded to the moment," Titans coach Mike Daniel said.
Pikesville coach Anthony Dorsey praised his squad's effort but was impressed with the Titans, who beat the Panthers by 20 during the regular season.
"I give it to New Town," he said. "They crashed the boards and executed their offense. Tonight they were just the better team."
—Craig Clary, Baltimore Sun Media Group