With less than a minute left in Saturday's Class 1A state championship game at UMBC, a Dunbar fan held up a sign reading "Lady Poets Pride."
Shortly thereafter, the Poets had plenty to be proud of, winning their second consecutive state championship by defeating Western Tech, 50-42.
The Wolverines made a game of it in the fourth quarter, but the Poets' first-half defense and second-half inside-outside offense were just too much.
Senior Michelle Wright — as she has all season — led the Poets (20-6) with 33 points. Tyshay Montgomery and Jayde Duncan led Western Tech (23-5) with 12 points each.
The win was historic for the Poets, who claimed their sixth state title, which ranks second on the all-time list to DuVal and Mount Hebron (seven each). It also marked the third time that Wright has scored 30 or more points in a state playoff game, which is believed to be a state record.
"People tell me I was making history out there," said Wright, who scored 40 points in last year's state final. "It's such a blessing for me that I can do that."
Dunbar took advantage of Western Tech turnovers and played a variety of defenses to hold the Wolverines to just three field goals in building a 26-13 lead at the half. The Poets controlled play in the third quarter and ran the lead to 36-27 on a Wright 3-pointer with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
It appeared at that point that Western Tech was done, but the Wolverines weren't. They went on a 5-0 run, cutting it to 36-32 on two Duncan free throws with 5:38 remaining in the game.
As happens so often, the Poets turned to Wright to stop the bleeding, and she did with a 3-pointer.
After Duncan scored on a layup with 2:02 left, Dunbar found itself up by only four, 44-40. On the next possession, Wright called for the ball and hit another 3-pointer to put the game out of reach with 1:32 left.
"Wright is a sensational player," Western Tech coach Nolan Roe said. "Every time we had a run, she'd make a big play and knock down a 3. She did a great job of stopping our momentum."
Dunbar coach Wardell Selby was equally complimentary of the Wright.
"There are some great players who have played in the tournament," he said. "She's proven that she should be up there with the very best."
For Western Tech, making its first appearance in the state tournament, the loss was deflating but not devastating.
"I never thought we'd make it this far," said Montgomery, a senior. "Our goal was to be regional champs, so I'm happy we came within a few points of winning states."
WT—Clopton 9, Tapley 5, Montgomery 12, Ade 2, Coles 2, Duncan 12. Totals: 12 16-25 42.
D—Johnson 1, Buie 12, Prillman 2, Wright 33, Hazelton 2. Totals: 13 20-28 50.
Half: D, 26-13.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun