Dunbar standout newcomer Daxter Miles' immediate introduction to the Poets' boys basketball rivalry with Edmondson wasn't ideal, as he was quickly sent to the bench with two first-quarter fouls Wednesday.
But the highly touted senior transfer was able to hang around, just like his Poets, and he made the most important moments of a marathon game his very own.
Miles scored all nine of Dunbar's points in the second overtime — an exclamation dunk in the closing seconds completing a 32-point performance — as the No. 3 Poets rallied to come away with a 82-75 win over No. 4 Edmondson in a highly anticipated Baltimore City Division I game played in Dunbar's packed gym.
Dunbar, which was without head coach Cyrus Jones Sr., improves to 9-1 overall and 3-0 in league play. The game, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was rescheduled for Wednesday to enable Jones Sr., watch his son Cyrus, Jr. play for the Alabama football team in the Monday's BCS national championship game in Miami. But travel issues kept Jones Sr. from making it back home in time for Wednesday's game, said assistant coach Paul Banks, who filled it.
The Poets trailed 36-21 with 2:06 to play in the first half and were down 52-42 to start the fourth quarter. Then, after sending the game into overtime thanks in part to a late 3-pointer from junior guard Keandre Gibson, they needed four free throws from Miles in the final 10 seconds of the first overtime to force another four-minute OT period.
From there, it was all Miles, who opened with a baseline drive, added a jumper from the free-throw line, and then made 3-of-4 free throws before the closing dunk.
"It was a clutch situation — me and my teammates just had to pull together, step up on defense and make free throws," said Miles, who came to Dunbar from IMG Academy in Florida. "It was a tough game, got a messed up lip, but it's all good because we got that big win. This is love for me, this is my type of game — scrappy, everybody talking but we played together and got the big win."
The game, which took 2 ½ hours to be played, had little flow. There were 78 free throws taken, a number of delays due to confusion at the scorer's table and an incident involving a fan in one corner of the gym during overtime that had the police on hand scurrying across the court in the midst of play.
Despite the distractions, the Poets stayed on task and found a way to win. Junior guard Kamau Stokes added 22 points, including four in the first overtime, and Gibson had nine of his 12 points from the fourth quarter on.
Gibson's 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter gave the Poets their first lead of the game at 63-62, but Edmondson's William Everett tied it on a free throw with 6 seconds left. The Poets thought Gibson was fouled shooting a 3-pointer in the closing second, but the referees ruled the foul came after the buzzer.
In the first overtime, the Red Storm built a 69-63 lead with 1:18 to play before the Poets rallied. Edmondson got 19 points from Darius Walker, 17 from Darius Hubbard, and 13 from Isaiah Tripp before he fouled out in the fourth quarter.
In the end, it was the Poets finding a way.
"It was just mental toughness," Banks said. "We fought. We didn't give up, and that's all we've been doing all year, just fighting. It definitely was a character-building situation. For something like this to come through, we have to build on it and keep it rolling."
Edmondson coach Darnell Dantzler said the biggest turn came when Tripp fouled out with 4:57 left and his team up 55-50. Protecting leads is something the Red Storm will work on in practice, and Dantzler said the problems are fixable.
"It's a learning curve," he said. "I'm upset about the loss, but they didn't give up — they kept fighting and that's the good thing about it. We just have to make some simple corrections."