SALISBURY -- Everything that 14th-ranked Dunbar had worked for this season came apart yesterday in a mere two-minute stretch of basketball.
Trailing by one midway through the second quarter of their Class 2A, East Region championship game against Parkside, the Poets committed six turnovers in a stretch of eight possessions to fall behind by 10, and they never recovered, finishing their season with a 75-68 loss.
"I'm proud of what we accomplished this season, finishing 20-4. We had a fantastic season," Dunbar third-year coach Wardell Selby said. "We're going to build on this and we're only going to get better."
The Poets made one last run in the fourth quarter, pulling to within three points at 66-63 on a coast-to-coast layup by Tiffany Jones (20 points), but Parkside staved off the comeback with a layup and three free throws to go back up by eight with just over 30 seconds remaining.
"We just couldn't get that one basket to get us over the hump," Selby said.
After a back-and-forth first quarter in which Dunbar freshman Toni Kennedy (17 points) came off the bench to score five points and assist on a basket by junior center Lakesha Wills, the Poets surrendered a 12-3 run that left them in a 10-point hole, 29-19, midway through the second quarter.
From that point on, the Poets threw one run after another at the Rams, but never cut the deficit to fewer than three points.
The Poets pulled to within four late in the second quarter with Jones and Wills leading the comeback, but Parkside freshman Kim Davis banked in an improbable three-pointer at the buzzer to extend the lead back to seven, 34-27, at the half.
In the third quarter, Dunbar went on an 8-4 run highlighted by a Kennedy three-pointer to pull within five points, 44-39, before giving up six straight points to fall behind by 11.
Wills then sandwiched a three-point play and a put-back around a steal-and-basket by Kennedy to pull within four points, 50-46, but again Parkside countered with an 8-2 run to stretch the lead back to 10 with 6: 20 remaining.
Central 66, Centennial 54: Senior guard Alicia Clarke was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and finished with 24 points to lead the Prince George's County school over the Eagles and into the state semifinals against Parkside of Wicomico County.
Centennial (23-3) was trying to make its fourth state tournament appearance and second in three years, but Central was quicker, taller and much more athletic.
Pub Date: 3/07/99