Through the first three quarters last night, the host Walbrook boys basketball team did everything better than Dunbar.
But once again, the No. 3 Poets overcame all that in the final moments, pulling out a 66-61 victory over No. 7 Walbrook in a nondivisional Baltimore City game.
Dunbar (15-3), which has already clinched a spot in the city championship game, received a game-high 29 points from senior guard James Taylor and 12 from Jajuan Robinson. Steve Woodard led Walbrook (14-4) with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Durrell York scored just two points for the Poets, but was enormous on the boards in the waning minutes, pulling down five rebounds in the final quarter, including one on the offensive end with the Poets holding a 63-61 lead with 24 seconds remaining. York was fouled and converted two free throws to extend Dunbar's lead to 65-61.
"We just knew what was at stake," York said. "We knew we had to play hard and grab rebounds. We had to work from there."
The Poets won the rebounding battle 39-35, led by York's 14 and Chris Frederick's seven, helping them weather Walbrook's athleticism around the basket.
"They rebounded for us down the stretch, and that put us over the hump," said Dunbar coach Eric Lee.
Taylor, who scored 12 points in the final quarter, converted a three-point play with 2:07 remaining to give Dunbar a 58-57 advantage. The Warriors regained the lead after an offensive rebound and score by Jamaal Booker.
After attempting a shot that Woodard blocked, Robinson got the ball back and scored with 1:15 left. But Woodard connected on two free throws to put the Warriors back in front at 61-60 with 1:02 left. A short jumper by Taylor hit off the front of the rim, but he scored on a put-back to present Dunbar with the lead for good at 62-61 with 43 seconds remaining.
"We feel if it's a one- or two-point game in the last two minutes, we know we're going to come through," said Taylor, who added four rebounds and three assists. "Most teams haven't been in battles like we have, that's why we always come through."
The Poets edged Walbrook, 78-73, at the Crimson Tide Holiday Tournament at Dunbar (Washington) in December. The Warriors, who missed 12 of 19 free throws in the earlier loss, followed with a 12-for-22 showing last night, including 4-for-10 in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors dominated the defending city champions, leading 23-14 early in the second quarter. With Frederick and Breyon Waddy helping on the boards, Dunbar went on a 12-4 run to close within 31-29.
A three-pointer by Taylor gave Dunbar its first lead, 34-33, at the start of the second half. The largest lead by either squad until the final seconds was three points.