Dunbar High senior forward Barry Jenifer said his team was facing a lot of pressure heading into yesterday's matchup with No. 5 Lake Clifton.
With East Baltimore bragging rights at stake, several former Poets standouts were in attendance for the renewal of one of the area's best rivalries.
But No. 9 Dunbar often thrives in big-game situations, and yesterday was no different as the Poets routed the visiting Lakers, 82-61, in a City Division II game.
"We had to come hard out because this is our rivalry game," said Jenifer, whose team lost last year's meeting at Lake Clifton. "All the legends came back to see us, so it made us want this game even more."
Former University of Maryland and Poets star Keith Booth and former All-Metro players Michael Lloyd and Billy Wells were among the huge audience that witnessed a rare blowout in the series. The victory gives Dunbar (14-2, 4-1 division) the inside track to both the division title and a spot in the city title game in two weeks.
Camontae Griffin led five double-digit scorers for Dunbar with 16 points. Jenifer and Byron Roundtree each contributed 15, and Craig Singleterry had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Parris Carter led Lake Clifton with a game-high 20, and senior guard Chester Frazier scored 13.
Dunbar frustrated the Lakers (13-4, 3-1) on the offensive boards and forced them to use their bench, preventing Lake Clifton from overcoming Dunbar's third-quarter run that built a 17-point advantage.
"Our thing was establish inside game and get that bench," said Dunbar coach Eric Lee. "We knew that if we get to the bench, maybe someone [who] regularly doesn't play, maybe we get five to 10 points inside."
The defending city champion Lakers had to utilize their reserves after nearly imploding in a third quarter that featured six technical fouls.
Lake Clifton drew five technicals, and starting guard Daschall Grade was ejected.
"We played poorly," said Lake Clifton coach Herman Harried. "We didn't play our brand of basketball, offensively or defensively."
The Lakers showed some defensive tenacity early in the fourth, forcing three straight Dunbar turnovers to cut the deficit to 59-50 on a basket by Carter with 5:12 remaining. After Lake Clifton missed a chance to pull closer after two misses from the free-throw line, Nathan Irby (13 points) beat the Lakers' defense for a layup and was fouled.
Irby missed the free throw, but Singleterry got the rebound and scored. Another offensive rebound by Roundtree led to two free throws, and the Poets regained full control at 65-50 with 4:07 left.