A raucous, foot-stomping crowd of about 700 packed the stands yesterday at Dunbar, a potentially intimidating factor for Douglass because it had never won a game there. It was even more difficult for Ducks swingman Gerald Brown, who transferred from Dunbar two years ago.
"It was tough, this being my old school, and a lot of stuff being said by the crowd," said the 6-foot-4 junior, smiling afterward. "I had to block out the people saying I didn't look right in blue and orange [Douglass' school colors]. I had to look off the girls grabbing my uniform when I took the ball out on inbounds passes. It took focus to win here tonight."
Brown wore his game face while scoring 13 of his 22 points in the decisive second period of No. 1 Douglass' 87-72 Baltimore City League victory over the second-ranked Poets. He also had two dunks, six steals, five rebounds and four assists as part of an overall display of team dominance that moved the Ducks to 21-0.
The victory was the biggest for Douglass since defeating Dunbar (15-4) for the city title at Poly in 1996. Douglass will visit Dunbar one week from today for this year's city title game.
"We came to my old home and played like champs," said Douglass coach Rodney Coffield, a 1980 Dunbar graduate. "Dunbar played hard, but we were ready. They told me before the game that they'd get it done."
Coffield praised 6-foot-8 center Richard Dorsey and 6-4 forward Darryl Edwards. Dorsey scored eight of his 16 points in the second period - including two of his three slam dunks - and registered nine rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. Edwards scored 10 of his 14 points in the third period, had 11 rebounds and blocked two shots.
Sixth man Derrick Brooks had seven points and six assists for Douglass, which led by as many as 22 points in the third quarter.
"Douglass had never won down here, so a lot of people thought we'd lose," Dorsey said. "I'm glad we were able to come in and blow them out."
Douglass did so before a crowd that included St. Louis Rams linebacker Tommy Polley, a 1996 Dunbar graduate who led the Poets to two state champion football teams and three state champion basketball teams. Polley's muscle could have been used last night: His alma mater was out-rebounded 35-21.
The Ducks did necessary damage without scoring leader Tyler Smith, who was relegated to the bench for the first half after picking up his third foul 7:34 before the intermission. Dunbar pulled to 22-20 early in the second period but was then outscored 18-5 and faced a 40-25 halftime deficit.
"I think the game was won in the second quarter. I just think we kind of took their hearts going into halftime," Brown said. "In the second half, we just wanted to take good shots and hold our lead."
The third period belonged to Edwards, who often blew past two and three players for finger-roll or reverse layups. Then Smith, playing with four fouls in the final period, scored 13 of his 20 points that included 7-of-9 free-throw shooting.
"In general, our team came through even when our No. 1 scorer was in foul trouble," Edwards said. "It was rebounding and defense. We just did what we had to do until Tyler could come back in and take control."
Dunbar was led by James Taylor (22 points), Jujuan Robinson (21) and Durrell York (10). Taylor had 18 points in the second half, and Robinson scored 15, but the damage already had been done.
"That second-quarter spurt got us down. On offense after that, I thought we played them evenly," said Poets coach Eric Lee, a 1985 Dunbar graduate. "But we didn't play defense in the third quarter - not enough to get the 'W.' "