Baltimore's Dunbar High, the No. 1 team in the nation according to USA Today, flew off on another road trip today. This one, to Myrtle Beach, S.C., will give the Poets their stiffest test to date.
Dunbar, rolling along at 8-0, won a tournament in Hawaii last week, beating 10th-ranked Harker Prep, of Potomac, in the championship game.
Starting tomorrow when Male High of Louisville will be the opponent, Dunbar steps up competitively. Says Dunbar coach Pete Pompey: "It doesn't get any easier."
"There's no comparison between the field at Myrtle Beach and the teams Dunbar met in Hawaii," says Bill Spotts, chairman of the upcoming Charm City Classic, which will feature Dunbar, at the Towson Center Jan. 17-18.
Adds Spotts: "There are six nationally ranked teams at Myrtle Beach, including No. 2 St. Joe's, of Alameda, Calif., and Simon Gratz, of Philadelphia, which was No. 3 last week. Myrtle Beach is No. 6. Every game is going to be very difficult for Dunbar."
Pompey is very pleased with the way his team is playing.
"Our three holdover starters [Donta Bright, Keith Booth and Michael Lloyd] are outstanding," says Pompey, "but what I liked in Hawaii was the way the new kids -- Paul Banks and Cyrus Jones -- stepped up and took up the slack. They don't allow people to double up on our big scorers."
Dunbar will be the big draw in the Charm City tournament, although Spotts says its Baltimore rival Southern (5-1 with a loss to Christ the King, of New York) should be nationally ranked.
Ticket sales at the Towson Center box office are going well, says Spotts. For information call 830-2244.
* Loyola High's basketball team had a big win this week when it beat the fifth-ranked team here, Lake Clifton, 71-68. Loyola is No. 10.
One of Loyola's seniors receives undue attention because of his name -- Wes Unseld Jr. He's the son of the Washington Bullets coach of the same name. As a Baltimore Bullets player, Wes Sr. was the NBA's Rookie of the Year and MVP.
"Young Wes is a nice little high school player," says Spotts, who saw the Loyola-Lake Clifton game, "but I don't think he'll be a Division I college player. He's a good rebounder and a solid player, but he's only 6-2 or 6-3. He needs to get bigger."
Unseld scored 10 points against Lake Clifton. Loyola was led by Jerry Hunt with 25 points.
Loyola is playing today through Saturday in -- appropriately -- the Wes Unseld tournament at Catonsville Community College. Also in the field are Mount St. Joe, Edmondson, Forest Park, Randallstown, Woodlawn, Broadneck and Hammond.
* A former Bullets player, Jeff Ruland, will attempt an unusual comeback with the Philadelphia 76ers after serious knee surgery.
Ruland, 6-10, has been out of the game 4 1/2 years. He will make his first appearance with the Sixers at the Spectrum Jan. 8.
Since leaving the NBA, Ruland has returned to Iona College and earned his degree. He has kept in good shape. He's now 32 years old and has three children.
* Blast superfan Mark Friedman makes an astute comment concerning the team's recent woes: "When your goalie goes down this year [as the Blast's Cris Vaccaro did] you're really in trouble, because everybody's only carrying one goalie."
* One of the most unforgettable men I've known on the Baltimore sports scene, Fritz Stude, died of cancer on Christmas Eve. He was 81.
Stude was the goalie on the Johns Hopkins 1932 Olympic lacrosse team. He had hoped to live until the team's 60th reunion at the Hopkins Homecoming in May. In recent years he was a golfer of such enthusiasm that he went South each winter and followed the LPGA Tour, befriending many of the players and their husbands including Nancy Lopez and Ray Knight.
When Fritz and I watched the July 4 parade in Towson this year his spirit was amazing. Though sick and feeble, he rose from his chair to salute the flag as each unit came by. To one group of veterans who dragged along he called out: "Come on, look alive! You guys look half dead."
The Stude family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations be sent to the Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Foundation. That says it all about the Studes.