Dunbar didn’t hold a lead after the end the first three quarters of play.
That’s why you play four.
The Poets, trailing 45-43 at Poly after the third quarter, rallied to outscore the Engineers 15-6 in the final period. This gave Dunbar a 58-51 win over the stingy bunch from Poly.
“We’ve been there before,” Dunbar point guard Donte Pretlow said. “Everybody here, we’ve been in those tough battles, game in and game out, so we’re ready.”
Pretlow, once again, was in control when it mattered most. He dished out four assists in the final eight minutes of the game, helping will his Poets to another victory.
The Poets (13-0) began the final quarter by taking the lead with a Rod Harrison 3-pointer to go ahead 46-45. The Engineers swiftly answered with a quick bucket from center Chaz Brown, who finished the game with 10 points for Poly.
But from there, the Dunbar defense held Poly (9-4) in check by not allowing another field goal for 4:43. Brown ended the scoring drought with a basket at the 2:19 mark. At that point, Dunbar built a six-point lead, holding a 55-49 advantage.
The Engineers also missed five consecutive free throws during their drought.
“I’m happy with what we put on the floor but we missed the front end of a one-and-one and five more down the stretch,” Poly coach Sam Brand said. “And they knocked their (free throws) down.”
Dunbar forward Gavin Pettiford led the way for Dunbar with 13 points. Pettiford, who transferred from Poly, almost had the play of the game. Pettiford found an open lane with about 3:14 left to play and jumped up to slam the ball through. But a Poly defender got in his way with a hard foul that prevented the score.
Pettiford was able to make both of his free throws, though.
“This is a tough place to play but we played with mental toughness and got the job done,” Pettiford said. “It feels good to be back (at Poly) but it’s better down there with Dunbar.”
The game began with a barrage of three-pointers from both teams. Poly guard Kye Hodge opened with a 3, which was answered with one from Pretlow. Pettiford and Harrison later added threes on back-to-back possessions to give Dunbar an early 11-5 lead at the 5:56 mark of the first quarter. Poly closed the gap to 12-10 before going on a 6-0 run to take a 16-12 lead.
Dunbar managed to hit the quarter’s last two shots to end the opening eight minutes tied at 16-16. Poly then got off to a fast 5-0 run at the start of the second quarter to take a 21-16 lead. By the 4:08 mark, Poly held a 28-20 advantage. But Pettiford closed the first half with six consecutive points.
The first basket was on a tip-in after a missed shot from forward Evan Singletary. The second bucket was on a reverse lay-in and the third was on a mid-range jumpshot.
Each time Poly jumped out to a lead, the Poets answered. In the third quarter, the Engineers went up 35-29, thanks to a pretty reverse lay-up from Poly guard Greg Butler. But the Poets answered with seven consecutive points to momentarily retake the lead at 36-35.
“We were able to take their best punches but was still able to get it at the end,” Dunbar coach Cyrus Jones said. “That’s what it all about.”
In the fourth quarter, the Poets went to a triangle-and-two defense to keep Poly’s scorers at bay. The Engineers, which shot well through three quarters, were held to only three field goals in the final stanza.
“We tried to slow the point guard down from penetrating and take one of their best shooters away,” Jones said. “We executed that well.”
With a four-point lead and 40 seconds left to play, Pretlow took the ball and began smiling at his defender. Despite holding just a 55-51 lead, Pretlow felt the game was over. Pretlow ultimately got the ball into forward Aaron Parham’s hands, who scored with 32 seconds left to put Dunbar up 57-51. Pretlow added the game’s final point, making the first of two free throws.
“Yeah, it’s over,” Pretlow said, smiling again. “They could cut all that confidence out because it was over.”
by Jason Butt