As point guard for the two-time defending Class 1A state champions, senior Donte Pretlow is filled with Poet Pride. The responsibilities that come with running the show for one of the country's most storied programs are both challenging and rewarding.
In his second year as a starter and fourth in the program, Pretlow has averaged 12.3 points, 6.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. A third straight Class 1A championship is within grasp — it would give the Poets a state record-tying 14th crown — but Pretlow knows there's other work to be done first.
Dunbar hasn't won a Baltimore City championship in Pretlow's time at the school, and that's high on the list of goals. The No. 2 Poets will get a good measuring stick Friday when they host defending City champ and No. 1 Patterson at 5:15 p.m. in the area's most anticipated game of the season.
What's it like putting on the Dunbar uniform?
Playing for Dunbar, our coach [Cyrus Jones] tries to get everybody to understand that it's not just a regular program because of the tradition and history we have here. He tries to get us to understand that there's a legacy here, and we have to play hard so that we can live up to those expectations. It makes us play like we have a target on our back all the time. We talk about having "Poet Pride" all the time. It provides a lot of motivation. By him telling us that, it makes you want to go out and play harder to keep the tradition alive.
What comes with playing point guard?
There's a lot of responsibility. My coaches put a lot of pressure on me because everything goes through me. I run the team, call the plays and make sure everybody knows what's going on and also have to keep the flow of the game.
What's the toughest part of playing the position?
I think it's just knowing that when something goes wrong, it's on me. If anything happens, coach comes to me. It's my job to make sure everybody does what they're supposed to be doing. That's the hardest thing — keeping everybody happy.
How important is winning the Baltimore City championship this season?
That's very important. It's one of our big goals this season. Since I've been around, we haven't won one, so it's a big goal for us. It's going to take a little bit of everything — hard work, defense. … Our coaches do a good job in preparing us for every game, and we just have to listen and then go execute on the floor.
How exciting is the opportunity to win a third staight state title?
We look forward to that — we like bringing it home. It feels good just knowing where you're at — the University of Maryland campus — the whole feeling of being there. And then when you're actually out on the court playing and you win, it's a real nice feeling.
What else do you enjoy doing when you're not playing basketball?
Playing basketball [laughs]. It's very important to me. Coach says if you love the game you've got to act like it — eat, sleep, breathe basketball.
Is there any advice you've received that you try to live by?
People, coaches tell me to work hard and don't let anybody ever tell you that you can't be whatever you want to be. No matter where you come from, you always have to hold your own destiny and make sure you control what you do.
What has been the best day of your life?
Winning the state championship last year. It felt better last year because I was actually a key part to my team. When we won it when I was in 10th grade, I played some, contributed and was on the team. But last year, I was one of the key players on the team and we went through it all together.