Paul Smith's debut as interim coach of Dunbar was a success last night as the No. 1 Poets defeated Douglass, 109-46, in the Tip Off Mixer at Lake Clifton.
In other games, No. 2 Southern of Baltimore routed Mervo, 115-52; No. 18 Carver topped Northern, 77-58; Forest Park edged Boys basketball
Northwestern, 75-74; City defeated Poly, 70-61; and Patterson beat Edmondson, 75-72.
After the lopsided victory, Smith summed up the Poets' overall performance: "So-so."
"The first half, defensively, we gave them entirely too many easy lanes to the basket," he added. "Our interior and frontcourt defense as a whole was not good. Against teams that are not only quicker but as big will definitely cause us problems."
Senior center Norman Nolan led the Poets (1-0) with 24 points in three quarters. Marvis Thornton added 18 and Rodney Elliott had 10.
The Poets, ranked No. 8 by USA Today, picked up where they left off last season, when they won the state Class 1A championship.
But the off-season hasn't been too kind. In August, Pete Pompey, who had coached the Poets the past seven seasons, was put on administrative leave while an investigation by the state's attorney's office for misuse of athletic department funds is being conducted.
On Nov. 21, Antoine Green, who was expected to be a member of the Poets' varsity squad, died of cardiac arrest in his home. During last night's warm-up, each Dunbar player wore a T-shirt with his picture on the front.
After a slow start, the bigger Poets simply wore down a resilient Douglass squad, which was led by 15 points from Vernon Foster.
After a jumper by Robert Smith, the Ducks trailed 26-20 with 5:57 remaining in the first half. The Poets went on a 15-3 run, getting four points from Nolan and three from Billy Wells, to open an 41-23 lead with 2:03 left in the half.
"We're not very happy with the way we played," said Nolan, who has signed a letter of intent with Virginia. "We struggled defensively in the early going, but we came on in the second quarter and sustained it."
For Southern, all 13 players scored as it extended its winning streak to 15 games.
Senior shooting guard Kevin Simpson led all scorers with 21 points. Damon Cason added 18 and Dante Williams had 13 for the Bulldogs, who led 56-29 at halftime. Core Hartz led Mervo with 14.
In the day's closest game, Kiam Preston converted two free throws with one second remaining in regulation to lift Forest Park (1-1) over Northwestern (0-1).
Preston, a senior guard, finished with 24 points. Junior guard Jeremy Morris added 14 and Mamel Foster had 13. Eddie Scott led all scorers with 29.
Corey Simpson scored 14 of his game-high 28 in the final period, leading City (1-1) over Poly (0-1). Senior guard Clinton Young led Poly with 21.
Harrison scored 18 points and Colin Jones added 17 points, leading Patterson (1-1) over Edmondson (0-1). Antonio Sullivan led all scorers with 22.
Today's final agenda of games will be highlighted by Southern meeting Lake Clifton for the first time since the 1991-92 season at 3:45 p.m., and Carver playing Walbrook at 3:45.