Here finish our series on the Top 100 Baltimore City Public School Basketball Teams of All-Time!
25 ‘93 Dunbar (20-4) Coach Pete Pompey > 1A State Champion, #1 in the Sun, #17 in the USA
Keith Booth 6’5 SR; Parade A/A 2nd (Maryland, NBA)
Norman Nolan 6’8 JR; All-Met 1st (Virginia)
Rodney ‘Noodles’ Elliott 6’8 JR; (Maryland)
Alexander Mobley 6’6 JR
Jeryl Singletary 5’5 SO
Billy Wells 5’11 SO
After 36 years of competing in the MSA Conference, the Poets joined the MPSSAA in the ‘92-93 season. Still, the Poets were still traveling and taking on national powerhouses, a practice that had started in earnest a decade before for the program on Orleans Street. They were the defending national champions, but returned only one starter from the 29-0 team, 6’5 senior Keith Booth. Coach Pete Pompey’s Poets received a boost when 6’8 junior All-Met Norman Nolan transferred to Dunbar, a season after Nolan had led Milford Mill to a state championship as a sophomore. The Poets already boasted 6’8 junior Rodney ‘Noodles’ Elliott. The Poets faced five nationally ranked top 25 teams in ‘92-93, several other out-of-state powers, and a handful of local contenders. The Poets finished ranked #17 in the country, despite their four losses. The Poets suffered a pair of losses to a pair of top 5 teams in the country at the 2nd annual Charm City Classic in mid-January – one to #1 Simon Gratz PA (61-44), with Rasheed Wallace, and another at the hands of the #4 team in the country, St. Anthony’s NJ (53-48). In December, the Poets topped Cardinal O’Hara PA and Penn Hills PA in the Altoona Classic. Earlier in December, at the Gonzaga Classic, the Poets took out DC’s top team, Anacostia, 78-70, then routed nationally ranked #16 Bishop Loughlin NY, 88-63, before falling short of nationally ranked Roman Catholic PA in the final, 41-37, snapping the Poets 57 game win streak. The Poets topped nationally ranked #18 St. Raymond’s NY, 61-59, in the Charm City – Big Apple Classic, with Booth leading the way with 23 points. The Poets suffered only one loss to a local team, splitting a pair of games with Lake Clifton. The Poets 63-55 loss to the Lakers before 6,000 at Morgan State snapped an 8 game Poets unbeaten streak in the series. In the 64-47 win over the Lakers, Booth scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. The Poets crushed Brunswick in the regional semifinal by 40 points, then did the same to Nolan’s former teammates when they posted a 91-51 victory over then 19-2 Milford Mill in the regional final. In the forty point win over the Millers, Booth scored 36 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists. Nolan scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Elliott added 12 points and 14 rebounds. In the state semifinal versus Fallston, the Poets opened up a 32 point halftime lead, before crushing the Cougars, 122-58. Booth led the Poets’ six double-digit scorers with 26 points. After a blizzard pushed back the championship game five days, the Poets struggled with Cambridge – South Dorchester in the state final, shooting 2-17 from the field in the second quarter. Trailing early in the third quarter, the Poets went on a 11-0 run and never looked back in a 65-59 win. Nolan, who had won a state championship with Milford Mill the year before, after scoring 54 points and 25 rebounds in the Millers two wins in College Park, scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win over the Vikings. Booth scored 14 points and supplied 8 assists, while Elliott scored 10 points and hauled in 17 rebounds. Booth was named the Baltimore Sun’s Player of the Year, averaging 21.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. Booth was named a Parade and McDonald’s All-American, and played in both the Capital Classic and McDonald’s All-American game. Nolan joined Booth on the All-Met First Team, averaging 18.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Coach Pompey was selected as the Baltimore Sun’s Coach of the Year. Pompey stepped down following his seventh season at Dunbar, and the once longtime Edmondson coach finished with a 155-25 record in his tenure for the Poets, winning a national championship, three MSA A titles, three Baltimore City championships, and a state title in the Poets very first year in the MPSSAA.
Notes; Booth was the first Dunbar player to attend Maryland since 1977, when Ernie Graham signed on with the ‘Lefty’ Driesell and the Terrapins, while David Wingate, Reggie Williams, ‘Muggsy’ Bogues, Reggie Lewis, Mike Brown, the Dozier twins, Sam Cassell, Donte Bright, and Mike Lloyd, among others, had all since gone elsewhere. Booth, who played 126 games at Maryland, starting every one, scored 1,776 career points (9th all-time), grabbed 916 career rebounds (6th all-time), and dished out 296 career assists. Booth leads the Terrapins all-time list in career free throws made and attempts, with 576 and 824, respectively. As a junior, Booth averaged 15.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, and was selected to the All-ACC Third Team. Booth was named to the All-American Third Team as a senior, averaging 19.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Booth won a NBA championship ring with the 1998 Chicago Bulls; College credits for Nolan and Elliott can be found in their senior year’s notes, the ‘94 Poets, #19 on this list.
24 ‘78 Dunbar (21-3) Coach Bob Wade > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, City Scholastic Champion, #1 in the Sun
Calvin Maddox 5’10 SR; Sun POY (Elizabeth City State)
Dwayne Wallace 6’2 SR; All-Met 2nd (Pittsburgh)
Barry Scott 6’6 JR; (Georgetown commit)
Brian Graham 6’4 SR
Bryan Carver 6’5 JR
Dwayne ‘Kosher’ Wood 5’5 SO
The Poets won both the MSA A championship and City League Championship for a second year in a row, and took the City Scholastic Championship, versus the top private school team in the area. Coach Bob Wade’s Poets extended their unbeaten streak versus Baltimore area competition to 37 games, after an unblemished record versus local foes in the ‘76-77 season. The Poets topped arch rival Lake Clifton three times, including in both the MSA A Conference championship game and City Public School championship games. First, the Poets outran the Lakers in their regular season matchup, 83-61, before having to produce a pair of second half comebacks to secure their conference and city titles. In the MSA final, the Poets trailed by seven, 48-41, with 3:58 remaining, before the defending champions closed on a 14-6 run to close, and escaped with a 55-54 victory over their rivals. Senior Brian Graham led the Poets with 19 points. Two weeks later, the Poets came back from seven down in the third quarter to run away with a 61-51 victory, to notch their third victory over the then #2 Lakers on the season. Senior three-sport star Calvin Maddox spurred a 20-5 run that closed the third quarter and opened the fourth, scoring 8 points and dishing out three assists in the run. Junior Barry Scott scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Maddox scored 15 points, dished out six assists, and took four steals. Prior to that, the Poets handled #8 Southwestern, 72-54, in the public school semifinals. The Poets also had notched wins over DC Interhigh champ Dunbar, 63-60, in the Tournament of Champions holiday tournament, and routed #7 Douglass, a Ducks team that finished second behind the Poets in their MSA division, 80-52. Following their city title victory, the Poets were 19-1, riding a 17 game win streak, dating back to an early season loss to defending Washington Catholic League champion, St. John’s, 65-63, at the Civic Center. Five years after the historic Dunbar – DeMatha matchup in ‘73, when the Poets upset the Stags before more than 8,000 at the Civic Center, Dunbar was looking for larger stages like that epic event, and after securing their conference and city titles, the Poets looked forward to a pair of blockbuster post-season tournaments, featuring some of the top teams in the country, followed by a matchup with Cardinal Gibbons, in the first ever Citywide Scholastic Championship, pitting the city league champion versus the Catholic league champion, the first post-season meeting between the two since the ‘71 season, when the Catholic schools departed the MSA, after a brawl erupted following a Mt. St. Joe 69-67 victory at Dunbar. Dan Snyder, who was behind the ‘73 Poets – Stags classic, and promoted a Dunbar – West Philadelphia marquee matchup in ‘77, had another marquee March masterpiece scheduled, with the Poets paired with ‘Bog Apple’ power Long Island Lutheran NY, ‘Philly’ Catholic League power Roman Catholic PA, and legendary DeMatha – three of the best five private schools on the East Coast, in a two day tournament, that looked destined to end with another Poets – Stags performance. A week before the tournament, Snyder scrapped it, due to what he said was poor lighting from a television viewing perspective, but was actually due to his (and his group) financial and advertising struggles. Still, the Poets could look forward to the prestigious Knights of Columbus Invitational, featuring a handful of the best teams in the East Coast, including one of the top two teams in the country, West Philadelphia. The Speedboys and DeMatha split top honors in the two major high school polls. Also in the ‘KOC’ were the top two in the DC Interhigh league, Dunbar DC (24-2) and Spingarn (22-3), and St. John’s, who had handed the Poets their only loss. For their part, the Poets had handed the Interhigh champion Crimson Tide one of their two losses. The Poets put away Spingarn in the quarterfinals, 89-78, setting up a showdown with West Philadelphia in the semifinals. Senior Dwayne Wallace paced the Poets with 25 points in the win over the Green Wave, while Maddox added 20 points, and Scott, 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Speedboys, who were led by Philly legend Clarence Tillman, raced out to a 19 point lead in the second quarter, before the Poets walked down their deficit to four, late in the fourth quarter. But, that’s as close as it would get. Tillman torched the Poets with 37 points in the Speedboys 89-82 win, while senior Wallace led the Poets with 25 points. The loss led to a rematch with St. John’s in the 3rd place game, after the Cadets lost to Dunbar DC in the other semifinal. The rematch was eerily similar to the original, that ended in a Cadets 65-63 victory. This one was 66-64, with 1:12 to play, before the Metro League runner-up Cadets scored the last six, in a 72-64 win. Attrition mattered, as the Poets had three players foul out, and two others saddled with four fouls. Up next was Cardinal Gibbons, the BCL champ, in a late March bonanza. The Crusaders, featuring All-American Quinton Dailey, were no match for the Poets, as the MSA champs notched a 76-59 win. The 6’5 Scott scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and 6’4 senior Brian Graham added 21 points. Maddox, the Poets floor general, was named as the Baltimore Sun’s Player of the Year. Though his 13 points, 4 assists, and 4 steals per game may not stand out, his play on the floor did, and he was the unquestioned leader of the Poets, and together with Wallace, formed the best backcourt in the area. Wallace, who transferred from City College for his senior year, averaged 16 points and 8 assists per game, and was named to the All-Met Second Team, as was Graham. Wade was named the Sun’s Coach of the Year.
Notes; Wallace played four years at Pitt, averaging more than 30 minutes per game in each of his final three seasons. As a junior, Wallace averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per game. Wallace scored 20 points versus Idaho in an opening round NCAA tournament game. As a senior, Wallace averaged 11.4 points, a team-leading 6.2 assists per game, and a team-leading 2.4 steals per game. In his final game, in a NCAA tournament loss to Pepperdine, Wallace scored 17 points and dished out 8 assists; Maddox, who was named the Player of the Year in basketball, All-Met in football, and was a MSA A long jump champ, was named the Evening Sun’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1978.
23 ‘97 Southwestern (27-0) Coach Terry Leverett > 4A State Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun
Cornelius McMurray 6’2 SR; All-Met 1st, 25.1 ppg (Bowie St.)
Robert Gray 6’4 SR; All-Met 2nd, 28/13 in state title game
Dion Smith 5’7 SR; All-Met 2nd
Earl Carr 6’0 SO
Jerome Banks 6’2 SR
The ‘97 Sabres had done what no other ‘Westside’ school had done in decades, win a city league title and finish with an undefeated record. A year after coming four points short of Dunbar from winning their first city title, the Sabres ran the table in ‘97, going 27-0 and finished with the area’s top ranking for the first time in the program’s history. The Sabres knocked off Lake Clifton three times, a Lakers team that finished as the second ranked public school team in the area, and #3 overall, behind only the Sabres and St. Frances. The Sabres topped the nationally ranked top 25 Lakers in overtime, 69-67, in their regular season meeting, and beat defending state champion Dunbar, 71-63, handing the Poets their first home loss at the ‘Eastside Garden’ since 1988. Senior Robert ‘Spert’ Gray scored 17 points, and 6’2 center Jerome Banks scored 16 points, hauled in 15 rebounds, and blocked four shots. The Sabres blew out Towson Catholic, 77-42, at the Mayors Academy. The Sabres also posted regular season victories over eventual 2A state champion Surrattsville, McKinley Tech DC, defending state champ Southern (47-38), Douglass (63-55), and Mervo (66-42). The Sabres notched an impressive 64-43 late season win over 21-win Randallstown, who finished at #5 in the Sun’s final rankings. The Sabres were led by Gray and junior Cornelius ‘Poo Bear’ McMurray, the top scorer in the city league. McMurray led the way in the Sabres 79-70 city title victory over Lake Clifton, scoring 18 points, hitting the key three-pointer, then adding a subsequent steal in the final two minutes that led to the Sabres victory. The Sabres topped Douglass a second time in the regional quarterfinal, 72-57, as McMurray registered a ‘triple-double’, recording 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, while Dion Smith scored 20 points, dished out 13 assists, and grabbed 8 steals. The Sabres put away Mervo a second time in the regional semifinal, 75-58, with McMurray scoring 26 points, setting up a third matchup with Lake Clifton, a team that beat eventual state champ Dunbar, Roman Catholic from Philly, and defending state champ Southern by 29. But the Sabres had been the Lakers kryptonite in the ‘97 season, and proved to be again in the regional final, notching their third win over the pre-season nationally ranked Lakers a third time, 64-58. The Sabres trounced Paint Branch, 68-48, in the state semifinal, as McMurray scored 28 points, draining a MPSSAA Final Four record seven three-pointers. The Panthers were ranked #7 in the Washington Post. The Sabres built a 37-19 lead midway through the second quarter, and McMurray tallied 22 of his 28 points, and six of his seven trifectas before intermission. Gray added 16 points and 6 rebounds. The Sabres faced PG’s Parkdale in the state final, and looked to be in control of the game, leading by 13 points heading into the fourth quarter, before the Panthers scratched all the way back to force overtime. The Sabres were down three points early in the extra session, before getting a bucket, then capitalizing on a pair of Panthers turnovers, before hitting their free throws down the stretch to win their first state title, 81-75. Gray scored 28 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the state title game win, and McMurray added 20 points. McMurray, a 6’2 junior, was named to the All-Met First Team, averaging a league leading 25.1 points per game, while adding 8.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. Gray was named to the All-Met Second Team, averaging 12.2 points, and team leading marks of 10.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots per game. Smith was a key piece for the Sabres, and joined Gray on the All-Met Second Team, while sophomore guards Earl Carr and Terrell Dantzler provided backcourt production for the undefeated, state champions. Coach Terry Leverett was named the Sun’s Coach of the Year.
Notes; McMurray played three seasons at Bacone College in Oklahoma, winning three NAIA regional finals. His senior year, McMurray helped Bowie State win their first CIAA title in the program’s history in 2003. McMurray was one of two Bulldogs starters from the city league, along with City College’s Omar Smith; The ‘97 Sabres are just one of three ‘Westside’ teams on the top 25 list, joining ‘02 Douglass and ‘20 Poly; The ‘97 Sabres are just one of four teams from the city league to go undefeated since joining the MPSSAA, over the last 28 seasons, along with ‘02 Douglass, ‘09 Lake Clifton, and ‘14 City College; The Sabres win notched the fourth straight 4A state title won by a Baltimore City League team, with Southern winning the 4A in ‘94 and ‘96, and Lake Clifton in ‘95. Never had any county or jurisdiction had ever won four straight 4A (AA) titles. Not ‘PG’, not ‘MoCo, nobody, in the first 36 years of four classifications; The ‘97 Sabres are just one of seven Baltimore City League teams to ever win 25 games or more and go undefeated, joining only the famed ‘82, ‘83, and ‘92 Poets’ teams, and the three mentioned above – ‘02 Douglass, with Smith, Brown, and Dorsey, ‘09 ‘Lake’, with the Barton, Melvin & Barton firm, and the 2014 Black Knights, with their ‘Big 3’ of Bond, George, and Stokes. That’s what company the ‘97 Sabres are in.
22 ‘19 Patterson (25-3) Coach Henry Martin > 2A State Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun
Marvin Price 6’5 SR; All-Met 1st (Ohio/SLCC)
Zach Blackwell 5’9 SR; All-Met 2nd (Lincoln)
Gerard Mungo 6’1 SR; (Millersville)
Jalen Willis 6’4 SR (Genessee CC NY)
Tyron Thomas 6’1 SR
The 2019 Patterson Clippers welcomed back senior Marvin Price, who was named as the area’s Player of the Year and led the Clips to their second state championship as a sophomore in 2017, after spending a year at Huntington Prep in West Virginia in his junior year. After a subpar performance in the ‘17-18 season, the Clippers returned to prominence behind Price, who again led his team to a state title. The Clippers also welcomed 6’4 senior transfer Jalen Willis, a All-Harford County selection at Joppatowne as a junior. The Clippers registered more than a handful of quality wins, including a pair over fellow state champions and league foes, Poly and Lake Clifton. The Poets won four of their five playoff games by 20 or more points, including a 74-54 win over Thomas Stone in the state semifinal, and a 79-56 victory over Wicomico in the 2A state championship game. The Clippers edged eventual 3A state champ Poly, 67-64, in overtime, to clinch the division and earn a city championship berth, where they beat Edmondson a second time, 60-52, using an 11-0 run in the final stanza to capture the city title for the second time in three years. Junior Zach Blackwell paced the Clippers with 16 points in the city championship game. The Clippers came back from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime against the two-time defending champion Engineers. Senior Gerard Mungo’s three-pointer with 8 seconds left in the extra session proved to be the game-winner. Mungo and Price each scored 18 points. In their regular season tilt with eventual 1A state champ Lake Clifton, the Clippers routed the 24-win Lakers, 89-63, with Price scoring 21 points. The Clippers also registered a convincing regular season win over eventual 2A state semifinalist Oakdale, 86-62. All three of the Clippers losses came to formidable, out-of-the-area teams, including nationally ranked Morgan Park IL in overtime at the Mayors Academy, Monsignor Bonner of Philly in double overtime, and 24-win Sidwell Friends DC. After dispatching Crossland by 23 and Gwynn Park by 25 in the regionals, the Poets passed their third test with 22-win Edmondson, 58-49 in the regional final. The Clippers, leading 46-45, held the Red Storm to one field goal in the last three minutes and closed on a 12-4 run, to take a 58-49 win. The Red Storm finished 22-4, with three of its four losses coming to Patterson, and the other a one point loss to state champion Poly. The Clippers dropped 22-win, SMAC champion Thomas Stone, 74-54, in the state semifinal, with Price scoring 21 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. Blackwell and 6’4 senior Jalen Willis each scored 14 points, and senior Mungo added 11 points in the win. In the state final versus Wicomico, the Clippers found separation from the Indians in the second quarter, pushing a one point margin to a 38-26 halftime lead, thanks to Price’s 17 points in the second stanza. Price poured in 31 points in the state title game victory, while Willis scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Mungo supplied 12 points and 7 assists. Senior TJ Thomas added 14 points in the 79-56 win. Price was named to the All-Met First Team for a second time, as the 6’4 senior averaged a team-leading 21.4 points and a team-leading 10.3 points per game. Blackwell was named to the All-Met Second Team. Willis, Thomas, and Mungo, who scored 30 points in the loss to Morgan Park, were all key contributors for the state champion Clippers. The Clippers made their fifth state title game appearance in nine years, and won their third state championship.
Notes; After a brief stop at Ohio U. in the MAC, Price transferred to Salt Lake Community College in Utah. Through six games in the 2020-21 season, Price is averaging 7.2 points per game, and shooting 55.6% from the floor; Through 2020, Martin has recorded a 249-110 record in 14 seasons at Patterson, leading the Clippers to six regional titles, three city league titles, and three state championships – ‘12, ‘17, and ‘19; Mungo scored a season-high 17 points, grabbed four rebounds, and dished out three assists in a 106-102 double-overtime loss to California PA; Willis is playing at Genessee Community College in Batavia, New York, and is averaging 11.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, per game; 2019 was the fourth season where the Baltimore City League placed three state champions in the same season, and the second time in two years. In ‘09, ‘Lake’, ‘City’, and ‘Digital’, won the 3A, 2A, and 1A state titles, respectively. In 2012, it was Patterson in 3A, ‘Lake’ in 2A, and Dunbar in 1A. In 2018, it was Poly, ‘Lake’, and Dunbar, and in ‘19, Poly and ‘Lake’ joined the Clippers as state champions. In 2020, the city league had a chance to hit the trifecta for a third straight year, before COVID-19 changed those plans. Poly was alive in 3A, looking for their fourth straight state title, ‘Lake’ was alive in 2A, and Edmondson in 1A.
21 ‘02 Douglass (28-0) Coach Rodney Coffield > 3A State Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun
Tyler Smith 6’2 SR; Sun POY (DePaul/Colorado State)
Gerald Brown 6’3 JR; All-Met 1st (Providence/Loyola)
Joey Dorsey 6’8 SR; All-Met 1st (Memphis, NBA)
Derrick Brooks 5’10 JR
Darryl Edwards 6’4 SR
Five years after Southwestern represented the ‘Westside’ with a state championship, a 27-0 record, and a #1 ranking in the Baltimore area, the Ducks duplicated the feat, and added an win, to boot. After decades of Dunbar, Lake Clifton, and Southern being the top three programs in the city, the best of the West Baltimore school programs were more Ken Norton, than Frazier or Ali, with few exceptions. One of those exceptions were the ‘02 Ducks. The Ducks made an unexpected run to the state final in ‘94 (the second year the city schools had participated in the MPSSAA), and upset the Dunbar Poets to take the city title in ‘98, but never had the program come close to matching the accolades of the ‘02 Ducks. The Ducks became just the third team in the Baltimore area to finish with an undefeated season since the ‘83 national champion Poets did, joining the Sabres and ‘92 national champion Poets. The Ducks 28 wins were the most won by a city league school since the ‘92 Poets, the season before the renowned Baltimore City league joined the MPSSAA. Southwestern had contending teams in the 80s and 90s, but never broke through until ‘97. Walbrook was always tough, but never really broke through until their 2005 team won the first of back-to-back state championships. The Ducks had the ‘94 and ‘98 seasons, and a MSA B title in the 80s, but never top billing. Until ‘02. The Ducks boasted, arguably, the most talented ‘Westside’ team of all-time. The Ducks featured the best guard in the city in Tyler Smith, the best junior in the city, Gerald Brown, and an unheralded ‘big’, one who had never played organized basketball before, finishing the season as the best ‘post’ in the city in Richard ‘Joey’ Dorsey. The Ducks added to their bag of ‘firsts’ by defeating Dunbar twice in the same season at the ‘Eastside Garden’, with a 87-72 win in their regular season meeting, with Brown draining 31 points, and then again in the city title game, 97-83, scoring the most points the Poets had ever surrendered in their program’s history. The Ducks pummeled the Poets from the start in the title game, staking a 30-11 first quarter lead. Smith poured in 32 points, and Brown supplied 25 points. The Ducks took the top spot in the area with a win over then #1 Walbrook, 69-68, which essentially clinched their berth in the city title game. With the win, the Ducks carried the #1 ranking in the area for the first time in their school’s history. The Ducks also posted regular season wins versus eventual 4A state semifinalist Mervo, and 2A state semifinalist Eastern Tech, to go with the pair of wins over the eventual 1A state runner-up Poets. To add, the Ducks topped a pair of ‘Philly’ teams at the Mayors Academy, including a 70-62 victory over the legendary Overbrook Panthers program, Smith scored 28 points, including 12 in the final stanza. In the second prime time event, the Ducks held off Martin Luther King, 48-47. After flying through their first two regional playoff games, the Ducks faced undefeated Randallstown in the regional final, a Rams team that were the defending 4A state champions, stood 25-0, and ranked just behind the Ducks in the area at #2. The Ducks handled the undefeated Rams rather easily, building a 15 point first half lead that led to a 81-71 win, snapping the Baltimore County champions 35 game win streak. Smith scored 29 points, and Brown added 17. After routing previously undefeated Chopticon by 31 (105-74) in the state semifinal, the Ducks had a showdown with PG power Gwynn Park in the state title game. The ten-time state champion Yellowjackets (23-3) were ranked #3 in the Washington Post. The Ducks built a 17 point first half lead, and when the ‘Jackets cut the lead to 8 in the third quarter, the Ducks went on a 6-0 run to carry a 14 point lead into the fourth. The Yellowjackets made one more run in the final stanza, but the Ducks held on for a 76-72 victory, putting a exclamation mark on an undefeated season. Brown scored a team-high 25 points, while Dorsey completed a breakout season with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 blocked shots. Smith, the ring leader, scored 14 points, dished out 6 assists, and forged four steals. The Ducks averaged scoring 83.2 points per game. Smith was named the Sun’s Player of the Year, after averaging an area-leading 28.1 points per game, to go with his 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest. Smith shot 59% from the field, and hit 45% of his three-point attempts. Brown and Dorsey joined Smith on the All-Met First Team, with Brown averaging 19.9 points, 4.9 assists, and four steals per game, and Dorsey averaging 11.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 6.9 blocked shots per game. Darryl Edwards, a transfer from Carver, complimented Dorsey up front, while junior transfer Derrick Brooks, who came over from St. Frances, was the Ducks sixth man and fourth leading scorer. Coach Rodney Coffield was named the Coach of the Year.
Notes; Dorsey played 149 games at Memphis, winning 126 games, losing in the national championship game to Kansas in ‘08, 75-68. Dorsey scored 997 points at Memphis, and grabbed 1,209 rebounds, which ranks 2nd all-time in Memphis history, trailing only Keith Lee, the former Tigers All-American. Dorsey also ranks second all-time in blocked shots, with 264, behind Lee. Dorsey, a second round pick (33rd overall) by Portland, played four seasons and 130 games in the NBA, with Houston, Sacramento, and Toronto; Brown played two years at Providence, before playing his final two years at Loyola, where he thrived. As a junior, Brown averaged 22.2 points, 5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. As a senior, Brown averaged 18.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Brown was shot and killed in Baltimore in 2019; Smith played at DePaul for a year, before finishing his career at Colorado State, where he averaged 10.7 points per game in his senior season; Brooks transferred back to St. Frances for his senior season; Coach Coffield, a 1980 graduate of Dunbar, went 266-121 in 16 seasons at Douglass, winning two state titles, and two city titles in four city title game appearances.
20 ‘77 Dunbar (23-1) Coach Bob Wade > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun
Ernie Graham 6’7 SR; All-Met 1st (Maryland)
Steve Wallace 6’3 SR; All-Met 1st (Missouri)
Calvin Maddox 5’10 JR (Elizabeth City St.)
Brian Graham 6’3 JR
Tony Roane 6’4 SR
Jerry Smith 6’4 SR
After winning four straight MSA A Conference and City League championships from ‘71 through ‘74, the Poets entered the ‘77 season having surrendered both titles to Lake Clifton in the two years since. That was about to change. Much of that changed because Ernie Graham exchanged blue and gold colors of the Lakers for the maroon and gold colors of the Poets for his senior season. The 6’6 Graham was coming off a season where he averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who finished #5 in the country. Graham began a transfer pipeline running directly to the more and more powerful Poets program. Graham was the first of more than a dozen transfers over a ten year period that produced ten Baltimore City League championships, and nine MSA A championships in that ten year period. The success began with Graham (Lake Clifton), and the success continued with notable transfers like Dwayne Wallace (City College), David Wingate (Northern), ‘Muggsy’ Bogues (Southern), Reggie Lewis (Patterson), Tim Dawson (Towson Catholic), Mike Brown (Cardinal Gibbons), Herman Harried (Eastern), Kurk Lee (Calvert Hall), Terry and Perry Dozier (Hammond), Kurk Lee (Calvert Hall), Karl ‘Boobie’ James (Douglass), Sean Tyson (Southern), and Terrance Chisholm (McDonogh), among others. In that nine year period, from ‘77 through the ‘85 national championship team, when those fourteen transfers and others played, the Poets went 171-4 versus local competition, splitting four games with Lake Clifton in ‘81, losing the epic triple-overtime Fuel Fund classic with Calvert Hall that same year, and splitting a pair with Calvert Hall in ‘84. In that nine year period, the Poets were the top ranked team in the country (should have been another in ‘82, arguably their best team – with ‘83 team, plus Wingate and Gary Graham. Calvert Hall, also undefeated, was #1) twice, and ranked among the top 5 four times – ‘82, ‘83, ‘84, ‘85. Four of the other five years, the Poets were #1 in the area, and unbeaten in the area. Calvert Hall was #1 in ‘81 and ‘82. The Poets dominated league play, with only City College coming within single-digits. The Poets beat Northern, who finished in second place behind the Poets in the MSA A Division I, twice, by 25 and 46 points. The Poets traveled to play the top two teams in Rhode Island, Central and Johnston, and beat them both. The Poets routed DC Interhigh contender McKinley Tech, by 23, 74-51. The Poets topped Lake Clifton twice, including a 66-55 MSA A championship game victory, snapping the Lakers two year hold on the conference title. Graham scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out five assists against his old mates, while junior Calvin Maddox, the Poets floor general, scored 15 points, dished out four assists, and grabbed four steals. At 20-0, the Poets looked to win their first Baltimore City Public School championship, after Lake Clifton won the tournament in its first two years. After putting away Douglass a second time in the quarterfinal, and City College a second time in the semifinal, the Poets met MSA A Division II leader Carver in the city championship. Senior forward Tony Roane paced the Poets in the 78-58 win with 24 points, while Jerry Smith, also a senior forward, added 17 points, including six straight in the third quarter that put the game all but away. Graham, who was saddled with foul trouble for much of the game, and finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots, was named MVP of the three day tournament. That left the Poets at 23-0, and a season finale bonanza with the #1 team in the country, West Philadelphia, and their star, Gene Banks, one of the two best high school players in the country, along with Albert King, of Fort Hamilton NY. Dan Snyder, the promoter behind the Dunbar – DeMatha classic, set up a late March post-season doubleheader for the ages, with DeMatha and the legendary Overbrook program facing off in the opener, and the Poets and Speedboys tipping off in the headliner. In between the two games, a dunk contest, consisting of some of the best players and dunkers on the East Coast, took place. Banks, King, Lewis ‘Black Magic’ Lloyd of Overbrook, and DeMatha sophomore Derek Whittenburg were among the contestants. The Stags edged the Panthers in overtime in the opener, 71-69, and Banks and King finished second and third to the young Whittenburg in the dunk contest. The Stag put a final claim on the title with a 360 degree dunk. The Poets hung tough with the Speedboys through one half, going into intermission trailing the top team in the country by just four points. But Banks & Co. were too much in the second half, quickly pushing the lead to 12, then 17, before handing the Poets a 80-65 defeat, their only loss of the season. Banks scored 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Graham scored 20 points, and 6’3 senior guard Steve Wallace added 18 points. Despite the season ending loss, the Poets were on their way to becoming one of the best programs in the country. Graham was named to the All-Met First Team, after averaging 22 points and 17 rebounds per game. Graham finished second to Loyola’s Pete Budko for Player of the Year award, the Dons forward that was headed to Chapel Hill to play for Dean Smith and the Tar Heels. Wallace joined the 6’7 Graham on the All-Met First Team, averaging 18 points and 5 assists per game. Maddox, the 5’10 junior, was an emerging star, and would be named the Sun’s Player of the Year the following year. Roane and Smith, both 6’4 senior forwards, were the other two starters and key components, as witnessed by the pair being the Poets two high scorers in the city championship game win over Carver. Coach Bob Wade was named the Sun’s Coach of the Year.
Notes; Graham followed the footsteps of former Poets star Larry Gibson to College Park. Graham played 116 games for the Terrapins, helping them win their first ACC regular season title in 1980, his junior season. Gibson finished his career in College Park having scored 1,607 points, which ranked 4th all-time on the Terrapins list when he finished, and now ranks as the Terrapins 13th all-time leading scorer. Graham ranks 9th all-time on the school list in field goals made, with 686, and finished with a career 50.3% shooting percentage. Graham still holds the Terps single-game scoring record, when he poured in 44 points in a 124-110 win over then #4 ranked NC State as a sophomore. Graham shot 18 of 26 from the field. Graham averaged 16.6 points per game as a sophomore. Graham had his best all-around season in his junior campaign, when the Terps finished #8 in the country, averaging 15.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game, shooting 50.1% from the floor. As a senior, Graham averaged 14.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game, shooting 51.4% from the floor; Wallace played two years at Missouri, starting both years. Wallace averaged 13.4 points per game as a freshman, and averaged 10.6 in an abbreviated sophomore campaign, playing and starting in 14 games.
19 ‘94 Dunbar (24-3) Coach Paul Smith > 1A State Champion, #2 in the Sun, #11 in the USA
Norman Nolan 6’8 SR; Parade A/A 3rd (Virginia)
Rodney ‘Noodles’ Elliott 6’8 SR; All-Met 1st (Maryland)
Tommy Polley 6’4 SO; (Florida St. FB, NFL)
‘Bootsy’ Thornton 6’3 JR; (St. John’s)
Billy Wells 6’1 JR; (Delaware)
In the fall of ‘93, Coach Paul Smith stepped in to lead the Poets program, after 16 successful years at McDonogh, before two years at Sidwell Friends. Smith was relieving his former Douglass teammate, Pete Pompey, who was forced out after financial improprieties regarding fundraising money (Pompey was later exonerated of the more serious allegations). Pompey led the Poets to a national championship in ‘92, four MSA A titles, four city league titles, and finished with a 155-25 record over seven years as the Poets coach. Smith had coached at McDonogh for 16 years, leading the Eagles to six MSA B titles. Though the Poets lost All-American Keith Booth to graduation, Smith still inherited a boatload of talent, starting with his bookend 6’8 senior forwards, Norman Nolan and Rodney ‘Noodles’ Elliott. In addition, 6’4 sophomore Tommy Polley was returning, as was senior guard Sean Lipscomb, and junior guards Jeryl Singletary, Billy Wells and ‘Bootsy’ Thornton. The Poets won the state title in’93, in their first year as a part of the MPSSAA, but still took on a national schedule of sorts, with basketball superpowers such as Rice NY and Simon Gratz PA on the ‘93-94 docket, in addition to a pair of Western Pennsylvania powers, to go with their formidable league slate. All three of the Poets losses were to teams than finished among the top 10 in the country, and all three were decided by three points or less, with two decided by game-winning shots at the buzzer, and the other with three seconds to play. The first loss was to league foe Southern, after holding a ten point lead early in the fourth quarter, 60-50, before the ‘Dawgs’ closed on a 22-11 run over the final 6-plus minutes, punctuated by a game-winning three-pointer from Alfonso Hawes in the corner with three seconds left to upset the Poets, then the #8 team in the country. Coach Smith had suspended two starters, Alexander Mobley and Michael Cooper, for disciplinary reasons. The Bulldogs would finish the season ranked #2 in the country. The Poets other two losses were to Rice NY, then the #1 in the country, and Simon Gratz PA, then the #6 team in the country. The Poets led Rice 71-69 in double-overtime before Felipe Lopez 30 foot, leaning three-pointer banked off the backboard into the net for the game-winner. The Poets held Rice to below 30% shooting, but committed 26 turnovers. Elliott scored 13 points and hauled in 22 rebounds, while Nolan added 15 points and 15 rebounds. The Raiders Felipe Lopez, the top scholastic star in the country, scored a game-high 30 points, with 23 of those coming in the fourth quarter and two overtime periods. Southern would beat Rice the following night, displacing the Raiders from their #1 ranking. The Poets led Simon Gratz, 43-38, with 36 seconds to play, before the Bulldogs closed the game on a 7-0 run, and for the second night in a row, lost on a shot at the buzzer. The Poets Sean Lipscomb had missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and the Bulldogs capitalized on the miss and made the Poets pay. Three games, six points, and five seconds away from their second national championship in three years, and five in the last 12. Still, the Poets persisted, and following the heartbreaking loss to the Bulldogs, dominated city foes. The Poets took their talents to Altoona, Pennsylvania for the holidays, and knocked off two of the best teams in that region – Carlisle, 87-66, and Altoona, in the final, 64-59. The Poets also downed ‘Big Apple’ power, Archbishop Molloy. In the Fuel Fund Classic, the Poets routed #4 Woodlawn, 61-40, ending the Warriors 39 game (regular season) win streak. Elliott scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while Wells matched Elliott’s team-high 16 points. The Poets faced Cambridge – South Dorchester in the regional final, in a rematch of the 1A state final game of a year before, when the Poets edged the Vikings, 65-59. Both the Poets and Vikings moved up a class in ‘94, to the 2A classification, and were pitted in the same region. This one wasn’t close, as the Poets rolled the Vikes, 79-62, as Nolan and Wells each scored a game-high 20 points. Allegany was up next in the final, with the defending 2A state champion Campers riding a 31 game win streak. The Poets took a 23-8 lead late in the first quarter and never looked back, pasting the Campers, 90-62, with Elliott scoring 29 points in his last high school game, and Nolan scored 25 points in his last scholastic contest, his fourth 20 point game in the Final Four in his career. Nolan was named to the Parade All-America Third Team. Nolan also participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Capital Classic, where he was joined by Elliott. Both Nolan and Elliott were named to the All-Met First Team, Nolan for a second time. Nolan averaged 17.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, while Elliott averaged 12.2 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game. Wells averaged 13.6 points per game, Polley, the talented sophomore, 10.7, and Thornton, 10.9. Lipscomb averaged 6.9 assists per game. The Poets finished ranked #11 in the country, the tenth time they finished among the nation’s top 25 in 18 years. Coach Smith, for his part, guided the Poets to a state title in his first season on Orleans Street.
Notes; Nolan started for three years at Virginia, and finished his Cavaliers career scoring 1,329 points and grabbing 765 rebounds. Nolan was selected to the All-ACC Second Team in his senior season, after averaging 21 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 52.4% from the floor; Elliott played in 123 games at Maryland, and was a part of three top 25 teams. Elliott joined Nolan on the 1998 All-ACC Team, selected to the third team, averaging 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. In three NCAA tournament games in ‘98, Elliott scored 53 points and grabbed 26 rebounds; Over 21 seasons – including 16 at McDonogh, two at Sidwell Friends, and three at Dunbar, Coach Smith went 329-169. College credits for Thornton, Polley, and Wells, can be found in the ‘95 Poets notes, #9 on this list.
18 ‘79 Dunbar (23-0) Coach Bob Wade > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun, #16 in the USA
Barry Scott 6’6 SR; All-Met 1st (Georgetown commit)
Bryan Carver 6’6 SR All-Met 1st
Duane ‘Kosher’ Wood 5’6 JR; All-Met 1st
Kevin Bush 5’10 JR
Marvin Raymond 6’5 SR
By the ‘78-79 season, Coach Bob Wade had re-established the Poets program as the preeminent program in the area. The Poets had won back-to-back MSA A Conference and Baltimore City League titles, after Lake Clifton’s two year reign. The Poets had gone 44-4 over the last two seasons, and 37-0 versus Baltimore area competition. After a mediocre two year stretch where the Poets went 24-14 in ‘74-75 and ‘75-76, Coach Wade looked to restore the ‘Poet Pride’ it saw under his mentor and coach, William ‘Sugar’ Cain, who ended his tenure with his troops having won 35 straight games. Following his first season with the Poets in ‘76, Wade’s Poets went 23-1 in ‘77, and 21-3 in ‘78, with two losses to St. John’s, and two losses to West Philadelphia. Wade’s ‘79 Poets had to replace four key components from their ‘78 championship team, including the Player of the Year, Calvin Maddox, and Pittsburgh commit Dwayne Wallace, who averaged 18 points and five assists per game. But, they did return the talented 6’7 senior Barry Scott, who was their second leading scorer and leading rebounder in ‘77. Joining Scott up front was 6’6 senior Bryan Carver, while junior guards Dwayne Wood and Kevin Bush were ready to run the show. When it was all said and done, the ‘79 Poets would put a bookend on what no other MSA A team had done in more than 25 years, win the MSA A post-season championship three years in a row. The Poets won the post-season title in ‘72 and ‘73, but no post-season took place in ‘74, thanks to a Baltimore City teachers strike. The ‘79 Poets recorded the best record in the storied program’s history, and matched the ‘77 Poets with a program best 23 wins. There have been only four Poets teams that have gone undefeated since the legendary ‘73 Poets with Skip Wise did the trick – the famed ‘82 and ‘83 teams, the ‘92 national championship team, and the ‘79 Poets. The Poets took out then #2 Walbrook, 74-60, in league play, and the other MSA A Division I contender Douglass, 79-57, with Scott scoring 27 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. The Poets topped Dunbar of DC, the eventual DC Interhigh champion, in a holiday tournament in December, and DC private power St. Anthony’s at McDonogh Gymnasium at Georgetown. The Poets pasted division runner-up Walbrook again in the MSA A semifinals, 80-63, with Wood scoring 16 points, dishing out 6 assists, and grabbing four steals. In the MSA A final, the Poets trailed #5 Lake Clifton, 43-42, midway through the fourth quarter, before going on a 8-0 run, and holding on to a 54-50 victory. Scott led the Poets with 23 points and 16 rebounds. The Poets put another rout on Douglass in the Public School Tournament semifinals, 78-55, as Wood led the way with 18 points, 7 assists, and 6 steals. The Poets ran out to a 40-19 halftime lead and coasted. In the final, the Poets overcame their shooting woes and used their defense to hold off #4 Southwestern, 48-41. Wood was the high scorer of the low scoring affair, tallying 16 points. The Poets became the first team to win the Public Schools Tournament (the city title) three straight times, in the tournament’s fifth year. The Poets unbeaten streak versus local competition grew to 52 games. The Poets had three dates left on their schedule in late March, at the Washington Invitational, a first year event that was taken the place of the prestigious Knights of Columbus post-season tournament, which ended in ‘78 due to financial reasons. Promoter Bob Geoghan had planned for DeMatha and Mackin to play, the two top privates in the DC area, Dunbar DC and Spingarn, DC’s top two public school teams, Overbrook and West Philadelphia, the former the current #1 team in the country, and the latter ‘77’s top team in the land, and #2 in ‘78. And the Poets. But, those hopes were dashed, when DeMatha and Mackin had to pull out, after not being granted a second post-season tournament by their league, after already committing to the Alahambra Invitational tournament, and Overbrook had to cancel due to their city title game taking place during what would be the same time of the WIT semifinals. So, the Poets were stuck with the likes of Gonzaga and St. John’s, the third and fourth best privates in the DC area. The Poets pushed by Gonzaga and their star Tom Sluby, 70-55, in the semifinals, with Carver scoring 24 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and blocking four shots. In the final, the Poets got revenge on the pair of losses they suffered to St. John’s in ‘78, holding off the Cadets, 75-72. Scott scored 24 points, while the dynamic backcourt duo of Wood and Bush supplied 24 points, 19 assists, and 8 steals, together. Scott, Carver, and Wood, were all named to the All-Met First Team. Scott averaged 19.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, while Carver averaged 15.2 points and a team-leading 13.8 rebounds per game, and Wood produced 13.9 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.5 steals per game. Bush and 6’5 Marvin Raymond were also starters Wade relied on heavily. All five starters played all 32 minutes in the win over St. John’s. Wade was named the Sun’s Coach of the Year for the second time in three years.
Notes; Scott signed a national letter of intent to play at Georgetown, but informed Coach Thompson in late July that he wouldn’t attend Georgetown. The Hoyas ‘83 class, which Scott would have been a part of, finished with 98 wins over four years, which was at the time the most wins over any four year period in its program history. Instead, Scott played briefly at a community college in California.
17 ‘14 City College (27-0) Coach Daryl Wade > 3A State Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun, #18 in the USA
Tim Bond 6’6 SR; All-Met 1st (Eastern Michigan)
Omari George 6’4 SR; All-Met 1st (Bowie State)
Kamau Stokes 6’0 SR; All-Met 1st (Kansas State)
Blair Davis 6’0 JR; (Salisbury)
Juwan Grant 6’6 SR; (Savannah State)
John Grant 6’6 SR; (Savannah State)
Once upon a time, City College had a proud basketball program, one that gave Dunbar a run for its money. The Black Knights went 20-0 and won the MSA A Conference titles in back-to-back years in ‘66 and ‘67, after the Poets won it in ‘64 and ‘65. In all, the Black Knights had won 12 MSA championships in its first 50 seasons in the conference, winning its last in ‘69. Still, the Collegians were top contenders as late as ‘72 and ‘73, finishing #3 and #2, respectively, in the Sun’s final rankings. The Knights fell to a #8 ranking in ‘74, then disappeared from the Sun’s top 10 for 25 years, when the Knights won 18 games and advanced to the Final Four in ‘99 and finished #8. It would be another nine years before they’d do it again, in Coach Mike Daniels third season at the ‘Castle on the Hill’. A year later, in ‘09, Daniel would lead the Black Knights to the first of back-to-back state titles, the program’s first major title in 40 years, since they last won a MSA A championship in ‘69. A year after winning the second, Daniel left for Severn. The 2014 Black Knights did what none of those relatively ancient, but nonetheless legendary teams of yesteryear – win a pair of major titles, while going undefeated, and finish with a national top 25 ranking. The Knights won their first city championship in the program’s history, added their third state title in six years, set a program record with 27 wins, and finished #18 in USA Today’s final high school rankings. Coach Daryl Wade, son of former Dunbar coach Bob Wade, returned for his second stint at the ‘Castle on the Hill’, following Daniel’s departure following the ‘10-11 season. Wade had led the Knights to three straight Final Four appearances from ‘97-99, before leaving for Mervo. The 2014 Knights may have not faced national juggernauts, but they did put away everyone that appeared before them, which included a dozen wins over teams that won 17 games or more, and notching 8 wins over teams that won 20 games or more. Only one of the 12 17-win teams came within five points of the Knights – 28-win Riverdale Baptist (60-57). In the regular season, the Knights topped #4 Edmondson (20-5), who won the 1A title, 65-57, and topped eventual 2A state finalist #5 Patterson (21-5), 69-62, #6 Milford Mill (18-7), 65-53, and #7 Lake Clifton (21-4), 65-55. The Knights put away eventual 2A state runner-up Oakdale (22-5), 74-58, and notched wins over perennial DCIAA contenders, Coolidge and Wilson. In the city title game, the Knights faced then #3 Lake Clifton. The Lakers were 19-2, with one of the two losses coming to the Knights. The Knights broke open a 47-47 tie in the regular season meeting, closing the game on a 18-8 run to take a ten point win. The city title tilt was much of the same, with the Knights trailing by four points early in the fourth quarter, before closing the game on a 21-11 run, to take a 48-42 win over the Lakers. The Knights run was spurred on by their trio of talented seniors – Tim Bond, Omari George, and Kamau Stokes. All three were selected to the All-Met Second Team as juniors, before Stokes transferred his accolades from state champion Dunbar to join Bond and George at ‘The Castle’. Trailing by four, Stokes hit a three-pointer to begin a 10-0 run, punctuated by 7 straight points by George. Later, when the Lakers had cut it two, Bond ignited a 7-0 run with a tip-in at the rim to all but seal it. The Black Knights rolled through the regional playoffs, putting away Poly, Centennial, and Reservoir. Centennial had advanced to the Final Four in ‘11 and ‘12, and Resi’ punched a ticket in ‘13. The Knights posted a +22.0 margin of victory in the regionals. Up next in the state semifinal was 24-win Urbana. The Knights controlled the game from the start, limiting the Hawks to only 12 first half points, propelling the undefeated city champs to a 56-36 win. The Knights withstood a nice challenge from 22-win Westlake in the final, before doing what they had done to Lake Clifton twice, and Riverdale Baptist, responded when confronted with a legitimate challenge. Trailing 43-41 early in the fourth quarter, the Knights outscored the Wolverines 18-5 over the last six-plus minutes to claim a 59-48 victory and their third state title in six years, a first for Wade, Bond, and George, and a second for Stokes, who had won one a year before with the Poets. Bond scored 16 points, going 4-4 from beyond the arc in the final, while George added 15 points and hauled in 15 rebounds, and Stokes, the floor general, added 13 points. Bond, George, and Stokes, were all named to the All-Met First Team, a year after all three were selected to the second team. Bond, a 6’7 versatile talent, averaged 12.3 points, 7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 4.8 steals, and 2.7 blocked shots per game. George led the Knights in scoring and rebounding, averaging 17 and 8.3, respectively, while Stokes averaged 15.2 points and 7 assists per game. Blair Davis, a junior guard, and only non-senior among the Knights top seven players, was a key contributor, as were 6’6 twin bothers, John and Juwan Grant. The Knights allowed just 48.1 points per game, and finished with a +22.4 point differential. Wade, who led the Knights to their fourth Final Four in his eighth year over his two stints at City, was named the Sun’s Coach of the Year.
Notes; Stokes started for four years at Kansas State, playing in 119 games, and finished his Wildcats career having scored 1,242 points and dished out 415 assists. Stokes ranks third all-time on the Wildcats career assists list, and ranks fifth all-time in career steals, with 135; Bond was a three year starter at Eastern Michigan, finishing his Eagles career with 1,056 points, 490 rebounds, 373 assists, 237 steals, and 107 blocked shots. Bond has played two years in the NBA’s G-League, first with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, then with the Westchester Knicks in ‘19-20, when he averaged 7.1 points, 3.6 assists, and three rebounds per game; George averaged 14.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a senior at Bowie State, shooting 49.2% from the floor, and 77.7% from the line. As a junior, George averaged 11 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, shooting 52.3% from the field; In his first stint at City, Coach Darryl Wade led the Black Knights to three straight regional championships from ‘97-99, with a state final appearance in ‘98.
16 ‘09 Lake Clifton (28-0) Coach Herman ‘Tree’ Harried > 3A State Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun
Will Barton 6’6 JR; All-Met 1st (Memphis, NBA)
Cleveland Melvin 6’8 SR; All-Met 1st (DePaul)
Antonio Barton 6’2 SR; All-Met 2nd (Memphis/Tennessee)
Jason Sharp 5’11 SR
Jaquan Jones 5’11 SR; (Daytona State)
Entering the ‘08-09 season, Lake Clifton hadn’t won a Final Four game in ten years, when the Lakers won their second state title, in Coach Herman ‘Tree’ Harried’s second season at the helm of the Lakers program. Though the Lakers had advanced to the Final Four in ‘01, ‘03, and ‘08, the Lakers left College Park without a victory each time. Though four top 10 rankings and three top 5 rankings over nine years is very respectable for most programs, it’s a significant drop from nine top 10 finishes in ten years, and seven top 5 finishes in those same ten years, such as ‘Lake’ did during the 90s. After three years of being absent among the Sun’s top 10 teams for three straight seasons from ‘05 through ‘07, the Lakers looked to be on their way to a state title in ‘08, as the Lakers headed to College Park with a 25-1 record and the #1 ranking in the Baltimore area. The nine year state title drought looked to be due some heavy rain for the Lakers. But lightning struck instead, when the Long Reach Lightning stunned the Lakers in the state semifinal, 62-59. Two regulars from that team would return in ‘09, in 6’8 senior Cleveland Melvin and senior guard Jason Sharp. Still, the Lakers lost their three top scorers, and even with them, it wasn’t enough. In steps Will and Antonio Barton from National Christian in Fort Washington. Will, a highly talented 6’6 junior, played two years at City College, before reclassifying and playing a year at National Christian. His junior season at ‘Lake’ would in effect be his last, before heading to a prep school. Antonio was a 6’2 senior guard. Though these Lakers didn’t have the national juggernaut slate their predecessors had in the 80s and 90s, they did beat nine teams with 21 or more wins, 13 with 17 wins or more, and faced only 7 opponents (of 27) with losing records. The Lakers topped eventual 1A state champion Digital Harbor twice, and eventual 2A state champion City College by 27, 61-34, and 4A state semifinalist Walbrook, by 19. To add, the Lakers notched a 9 point win over eventual MIAA and BCL champ St. Frances, 63-54, at the Mayors Academy. Antonio Barton led the way with 21 points, with Melvin and Sharp adding 17 and 16 points, respectively. The Panthers finished at #2 in the area, behind the Lakers, with a 33-5 record. The Lakers took out #3 (Milford Mill), #5 (Digital Harbor), #6 (City College), and #7 (Walbrook), too. The Millers finished 23-4, the state champion Rams, 23-5, the state champion Knights, 21-6, and the Warriors, 22-5. The Lakers won a pair of games in Pennsylvania over the holidays, including a 57-44 victory over 22-win Harrisburg. ‘Lake’ fortified its schedule strength with wins over Laurel and Patterson, both 18 game winners, and Coolidge DC and Dunbar, both 17 game winners. The Lakers faced Digital Harbor in the city title game, and the Lakers routed the Rams, 69-30, hanging the 39 point win with the 27 point regular season win over the state champion Knights, and the 19 point win over the 22-win, 4A regional champion Warriors. The Lakers outscored the Rams 42-5 in the second half, limiting the eventual fellow state champion to just one field goal after intermission. Will Barton scored 21 points, while Melvin added 19. The Lakers looked for their fifth Final Four berth in 11 seasons, but more importantly, their first state title since ‘99. The Lakers destroyed Mervo in the regional quarterfinal by 38 points, then dispatched 16-win Patapsco by 35 in the regional semifinal, before holding off #3 Milford Mill in the regional final, 56-54. The Lakers were up by nine points with five minutes to play when the Baltimore County champs rallied to tie it with less than 40 seconds to play. On the Lakers last possession, Will Barton grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. The junior hit both shots, putting the Lakers up 56-54, which is where it would stay, as the Millers potential game-winning attempt from ‘three-point land’ bounced off the front rim. The Millers finished 22-4 and ranked #3 in the area, behind the Lakers and St. Frances. A year after getting shocked in the semifinal round, the Lakers found tough going again in the ‘09 semifinal, with 23-3 Seneca Valley. The Lakers trailed by two, 37-35, on the back half of the third quarter before going on a 15-0 run to all but seal it. Sharp, who scored 7 points in the 15-0 run, led the Lakers with 21 points, while Will Barton added 18 points and 10 rebounds. The state final didn’t hold the drama the regional final or state semifinal did, as the Lakers ran out to a 35-17 halftime lead on Friendly, before taking a 75-50 victory over the Patriots. Will Barton led the Lakers with 20 points and 9 rebounds, while Melvin added 17 points, Antonio Barton, 16, and Sharp, 12. On the season, the Lakers allowed only 44.6 points per game, posting a +25.4 point differential. Will Barton was named the Sun’s Player of the Year, after averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists per game. Melvin and Sharp joined Barton on the All-Met First Team, with the big man averaging 17 points, 12.1 rebounds, and five blocked shots per game, and the senior guard averaging 14 points and four assists per game. Antonio Barton averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds, and four assists per game. Coach Harried was named the Sun’s Coach of the Year, and the Lakers became just the third Baltimore City team to finish undefeated since Dunbar’s national championship team of ‘92 (‘97 Southwestern, ‘02 Douglass).
Notes; Barton played two years at Memphis, before entering the NBA Draft and being selected in the second round by the Portland Trailblazers. As a sophomore, Barton was chosen as the Conference USA Player of the Year, after leading the Tigers to 26 wins and the Conference USA championship. Barton averaged 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game in his senior season, while shooting 50.9% from the floor, and 74.9% from the line. As a freshman, Barton averaged 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Barton is currently playing in his ninth season in the NBA, and has averaged double-figures in scoring in each of the last six seasons. Barton has already eclipsed 5,000 points, 2,000 rebounds, and 1,000 assists in his career. In 2018 for the Nuggets, Barton averaged 15.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game, shooting 51% from the floor, and 80.5% from the line. Last season, in the ‘19-20 season, Barton averaged 15.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists for the Nuggets; Melvin started for four years at DePaul, finishing his Blue Demons career scoring 1,792 points and hauling in 707 rebounds. Melvin currently ranks 7th all-time on the Blue Demons scoring list, ahead of former pros Terry Cummings, Rod Strickland, and Tyrone Corbin. Melvin ranks third all-time in career field goals made, with 719, behind former pros Mark Aguirre and Dave Corzine. As a freshman, Melvin averaged 14.3 points per game, shot 52.4% from the floor, and was selected to the All-Big East Freshman team. As a sophomore, Melvin averaged 17.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Melvin averaged 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds as a junior, and 16.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocked shots per game as a senior; Will Barton played for three years at Memphis, two years with his brother Will. Memphis won the Conference USA title in all three years. As a senior, Barton started for Tennessee, who advanced to the ‘Sweet 16’, averaging 7.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game; Through the 2020 season, Harried has gone 449-120 over 23 seasons, and is just 17 wins from matching Dunbar’s legendary coach ‘Sugar’ Cain’s 466 wins, for the most victories won by a Baltimore City league coach. Harried has led the Lakers to seven city title games, four city championships, 11 regional championships, seven state title games, and five state championships.
15 ‘75 Lake Clifton (24-2) Coach Woody Williams > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun, #12 in the USA
Robert Brown 6’6 JR; All-Met 1st (Florida A&M)
Arnold ‘Clyde Gaines 6’3 JR; All-Met 2nd (Wisconsin)
Rodney ‘Pop’ Wright 6’3 SO; (Drake)
Kevin Graham 6’7 JR
Tim Burroughs 6’5 SR
Ernie Graham 6’5 SO; (Maryland)
From the late 50s through the mid-70s, Dunbar and City College dominated Baltimore City high school basketball, and by extension, the MSA A Conference. Between the ‘56-57 season, the year Dunbar joined the conference, through the ‘73-74 season, the Poets won eight conference championships, while the Black Knights won five. Lake Clifton opened for the ‘71-72 school year, and by their fourth year, all under Coach Woody Williams, the Lakers let both the Poets and Collegians know there was a new contender in town, and in ‘75, new MSA A and city league champions. The Lakers were supremely talented, and with the graduation of Dunbar’s Skip Wise, ‘Lake’ was most talented team in the area. The fact was, they looked to be the most talented team in the area for at least two years, barring transfers, as six of the top seven Lakers players on the ‘75 team were non-seniors. The Lakers not only took the top billing in ‘Charm City’, they snapped the Poets 52 game win streak versus local competition, with a 84-77 win in their first of two meetings, with 6’6 junior Robert Brown scoring 22 points, grabbing 18 rebounds, and blocking 6 shots. The Lakers notched a second win, 76-68, over the defending MSA A and city league champion Poets at Dunbar in early February, with 6’3 sophomore guard Rodney ‘Pop’ Wright torching the nets for 29 points, while his backcourt mate, 6’3 junior Arnold ‘Clyde’ Gaines, added 17 points. The Lakers dominated league play, and added wins over out-of-town foes Power Memorial NY, of Lee Alcindor fame, and two of the top teams in the loaded DC Interhigh League, McKinley Tech and Coolidge. The only regular season loss the Lakers suffered was to Maggie Walker VA, 74-72, in overtime, at a holiday tournament in Richmond. The Lakers clinched their first MSA A title, defeating Northwestern, 65-60, watching a 17 point halftime lead dwindle to two, before holding on. Brown scored 20 points and grabbed 20 rebounds, while Wright led all scorers with 26 points. The city introduced the very first Baltimore City Public Schools Tournament, a 4 day event with 14 city public schools, ending with a championship game. The Lakers rocked Edmondson, 73-58, in the semifinal, before receiving a scare from Walbrook in the final, 50-48. Brown scored 13 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the city title game. The Lakers played in the prestigious Knights of Columbus Tournament held at George Mason University, which presented an opportunity to play against one of the top programs in the country in the DeMatha Stags. Two years after the legendary ‘73 Poets shocked the high school landscape, the Lakers were looking to do the same. The Lakers gave the Stags all they could handle, leading by four at halftime, by one after three quarters, and led by one, 65-64, with 38 seconds to play, before bowing, 68-64. The game saw 11 lead changes in the last nine minutes. Gaines scored 17 points, while Brown and Wright each added 16 points. Brown, was named to the All-Met First Team, averaging 18.1 points, 18.4 rebounds, and four blocked shots per game, while Gaines was selected to the All-Met Second Team. Kevin Graham was the Lakers second leading rebounder. Kevin Graham and Tim Burrough were the only senior ‘regulars’. ‘Pop’ Wright and sophomore Ernie Graham would be named All-Met ‘First Team era’ the following year. The Lakers finished ranked #12 in the country.
Notes; College credits for Gaines and Wright can be found in the Lakers ‘76 notes, #8 on this list. College credits for Ernie Graham can be found in his senior year’s notes, the ‘77 Poets, #20 on this list.
14 ‘95 Lake Clifton (23-1) Coach Charlie Moore > 4A State Champion, #1 in the Sun, #13 in the USA
Shawnta ‘Nut’ Rogers 5’4 SR; Sun POY (George Washington)
Guy Butler 6’7 SR; All-Met 2nd
Ronald Byrd 6’1 SR; All-Met 2nd
Reggie Frazier SR; All-Met 2nd
Michael King 6’4 SO; (George Washington)
Jimmy Moore 6’0 SR
Henry Hurst 6’4 SR
After a rather dismal season in ‘94, when both Southern and Dunbar finished ranked among the best 25 teams in the country, Coach Charlie Moore looked to have his Lake Clifton Lakers not only among the area’s best, but the nation’s best in ‘95. The Lakers had the best guard in the city in Shawnta ‘Nut’ Rogers, two talented seniors in Ronald Byrd and Reggie Frazier, and 6’7 senior transfer Guy Butler, who came over from defending Baltimore County champion Woodlawn. The early to mid-90s era still had ‘Charm City’s’ best competing in several games a year against the nation’s top teams, all while fitting in MPSSAA requirements, including ‘Lake’, Dunbar, and Southern. That was outside the deadly slate the Baltimore City League schedule offered. Anyone that could run the table, whether it be Dunbar’s teams from ‘90-96, several of ‘Lake’s’ teams during that time, including the ‘95 team, and most of Southern’s teams from ‘90-96, all would lay claim to a national title like the ‘92 Poets team did. There’s only one #1 team in the country every year, so it was a daunting task, but ‘Charm City’s’ ‘Big 3’ had schedules that could fill such an order. Splits, or even winning one of three versus national juggernauts, and a clean slate at home, would usually garner national top 25 honors. The ‘95 Lakers were no different, with Lincoln NY and St. Anthony’s NJ on the slate, to go with a pair of teams in the city that had just finished among the top 25 in the country. The Lakers won 8 games versus teams that finished among the Sun’s top 10 teams, and beat another pair outside the area that would have ranked among the top 3. The other two would be ‘Lake’ and Dunbar, and of all seasons, the Lakers and Poets never met up. They’ve played as many as five times in one season (‘88), and the only year that both teams finished among the nation’s top 15 teams, they never played each other. The Lakers knocked out everyone else in the city, including defending state champion Southern three times, top 10 Walbrook twice, including a 106-94 victory, where Rogers scored 38 points, and topped Southwestern, who was ranked as high as #6, three times. The Lakers also trumped three Anne Arundel County schools that finished among the Sun’s top 10 – #6 Arundel (21-3), #7 Broadneck (22-3), and #10 Severn (24-8). While Dunbar and Southern had won state titles in the first two years the Baltimore City schools participated in the MPSSAA, and the Lakers surely wanted their first state title in the third year, their eyes were on the Charm City Classic, where Lincoln NY and St. Anthony’s NJ would await. The Lakers, then ranked #12 in the country, took on Lincoln, with Stephon Marbury, first. The Railsplitters were ranked #10 in the country. Marbury versus Rogers. The Lakers overcame Marbury, who led the game with three straight assists, and went into intermission with 14 points and 7 assists. Byrd hit five of eight attempts beyond the arc, while the Lakers limited Marbury to seven points and no assists in the second half, and the Lakers took a 61-55 victory before the hometown crowd at Loyola University. Marbury finished with 21 points and 7 assists, while Rogers scored 13 points and 5 assists. Byrd was the game’s leading scorer, with 24 points. Next up, #4 St. Anthony’s. The Friars had command through three quarters, with a ten point lead, 49-39, before outscoring the Lakers 30-8 in the final quarter for a blowout win. Win one, lose one, the Lakers first (and only) loss of the year. With no city title game, no Dunbar showdown, the Lakers put their focus on winning the 4A state title, a title Southern had won in ‘94. The Lakers beat Southwestern a third time, 90-80, in the regional semifinal, with Rogers pouring in 36 points. The Lakers met the two-time defending state champion (won 3A in ‘93) Southern Bulldogs a third time in the regional final, and after a pair of one point wins over the ‘Dawgs’, the regional final looked much the same through three quarters, with a tie game at 45. Then, the kid they called ‘Nut’ went to work, leading the Lakers to 25 points in the fourth quarter, finishing with 25 points, and walking away with a 70-56 win. The Lakers were on to their first ‘Final 4’, and a matchup with Arundel. The Lakers tamed the Wildcats, running out to a 29 point lead early in the fourth quarter, settling for a 87-70 win. Rogers registered a ‘triple-double’, scoring 20 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out 11 assists. That set up a 4A showdown with the Sun’s #1, ‘Lake’, and the Washington Post’s #2, Springbrook. The Blue Devils had lost to Southern in the ‘94 4A state final, 68-58. This one was a back and forth affair, and the Lakers trailed by four points with 1:12 to play. After cutting it to one, and a Rogers steal, Butler’s three-pointer with :4.5 left proved to the game-winner. The Lakers finished 23-1, and ranked #1 in the Sun, ahead of the Poets, who finished 25-1, and #2. Both beat Lincoln, and both lost to St. Anthony’s. And both won state championships. Lake Clifton finished ranked #13 in the country by the USA Today. The Poets ranked as high as #9 in the country by Prep Hoops. Rogers was named the Baltimore Sun’s Player of the Year, averaging 24.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 9.6 assists, and 4.3 steals per game. Rogers became the Lakers all-time leading scorer, finishing with 1,731 career points. Butler and Frazier were both named to the All-Met Second Team, with Butler averaging 12.1 points and 8.6 rebounds, and Frazier averaging 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Coach Charlie Moore, in his eighth season with the Lakers, was named the Sun’s Coach of the Year.
Notes; Rogers went on to George Washington, where he’d finish as one of the greatest Colonials to ever play. Rogers 634 career assists and 310 steals both are Colonials records, while his 223 three-pointers made rank second, and his 1,701 career points rank sixth best in program history. In ‘99, Rogers senior season, he was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, after averaging 20.7 points, 4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 3.6 steals per game. Rogers nailed 86 ‘threes’, and shot 86.8% from the line. Rogers played one year in the CBA, before playing ten seasons overseas in France and Italy (and back to France). Rogers was twice named a league all-star in France’s top league in ‘01 and ‘02; Moore, who coached ten seasons at Lake Clifton, and two at Carver, finished with a 221-66 record over 12 seasons in the city league.
13 ‘20 Poly (24-2) Coach Sam Brand > 3A Final Four (no results), City League Champion, #2 in the Sun, #18 in the USA
Justin Lewis 6’7 SR; Sun POY (Marquette)
Brandon Murray 6’4 SR; 2-time All-Met, City POY (IMG*/LSU)
Rahim Ali 5’11 SR; 2-time All-Met, 4 Final Fours (Howard)
Ian Wallace 6’6 SR; 3-time champ (Mt. Zion*)
Bryce Lindsay 6’0 SO
Kwame Evans 6’8 FR
The Engineers were well on their way to win their fourth straight 3A state championship, then COVID-19 hit, wiping out the Final Four entirely. Of the four Engineers teams, the three champions and the 2020 edition, this was the only one that headed into the Final Four with a national top 25 ranking. Once a staple among ‘Charm City’s’ best, travel and matchups against the nation’s top 10 teams had become more scarce, but the Engineers defied that analysis, playing a handful of the nation’s best, in addition to their challenging city league docket. The Engineers recorded nine victories over teams that won 20 games or more, and 14 of their 24 wins came against teams that had won 16 games or more. In all, 11 of the Engineers 26 games were played against teams that won 20 games or more, and three were played against teams that were ranked among the top 20 in the country. Only seven of the Engineers 26 opponents finished with a losing record. The 2020 Engineers were a battle-tested, veteran laden team, with point guard Rahim Ali headed to his fourth Final Four with the Engineers, 6’7 senior Justin Lewis advancing to his third with Poly, and 6’4 senior Brandon Murray his second, since moving down from New York. Ian Wallace, a 6’6 senior, added to the experience, while 6’8 freshman Kwame Evans and 6’1 sophomore guard Bryce Lindsay added to Coach Sam Brand’s riches. The Engineers began the season with a 79-52 blowout of eventual DCIAA champion (24-5) Wilson, then applied a 27 point blowout to Lake Clifton (20-5) by the same score. The Engineers traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the holidays, and started with a win over nationally ranked #16 Harvard Westlake CA, 56-46. The Engineers began the game with a 9-0 run, and held a 34-14 halftime lead over the Wolverines. Murray led the scoring with 23 points, while Lewis scored 15 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out four assists. The Engineers advanced to play St. John’s DC, a year after beating the Cadets in overtime. This time, the Engineers held a nine point first half lead, before the Cadets caught fire in the second half, shooting 14-21 from the floor, and handed the Engineers a 62-56 loss. The Engineers followed that loss with two more wins at the beach – a 71-51 win over 24-win Millenium AZ, and a 93-60 rout of 19-win Coronado NV. The Engineers dominated Chester PA (24-4), 86-67, at the Mayors Academy, a team that would advance to the (Pennsylvania) PIAA 6A ‘Elite 8’, before the pandemic cancelled the rest. Poly then clobbered Edmondson (21-4), 83-37, an eventual 1A state semifinalist, who too saw their season ended by the pandemic. A showdown with St. Frances at Morgan State called next, and the game was a classic, between the two best in Baltimore City, and two of the top 25 ranked teams in the country. The game was a one possession game after the first, second, and third quarters, before the Panthers made some shots down the stretch to pull out a 57-53 victory. The Engineers then traveled to the ‘Castle on the Hill’ to take on their arch rivals, the City College Black Knights. The Engineers controlled throughout, jumping out to a 24-6 lead after one quarter, behind 16 points from Murray, and settling for a 77-69 victory. Murray finished with 44 points, drilling 7-8 from ‘three-point land’. A matchup with the country’s #8 team, IMG, loomed at the East Coast Bump Showcase doubleheader played at UMBC’s Event Center. The first game matched St. Frances, who had beaten the Engineers by four points 14 days before, and legendary Oak Hill. The Panthers started the fireworks with a 80-61 win over the national ranked Warriors, and the Engineers ended it with a finale of fireworks in a 62-60 upset victory over the Ascenders. Poly trailed 25-20 midway through the second quarter, before going on a 15-0 run to close the half, sparked by Murray’s nine points in the spurt. The Ascenders tightened the 10 point halftime lead in the second half, and with the game tied at 60, Ali converted a reverse layup with 8 seconds remaining that proved to be the game-winner. Murray finished with 21 points, Lewis, 20, and the freshman Evans, 16. The Engineers had a rematch with #5 Lake Clifton in the city title game, and the three-time defending 3A state champions shut the Lakers down, coming away with a 61-44 win, to win their third city title in five years (‘16, ‘18, ‘20). The Engineers scored the game’s first 17 points, and never looked back. Lewis led the way with 26 points. After pummeling 17-win Franklin by 42 points in the opening round the playoffs, the Engineers had a rematch with the #6 Black Knights (22-3). This was a tale of two games. The first – a battle between arch rivals that ends with a tie at 37 at halftime. The second – a total annihilation by Poly, to City, as the Engineers outscored the Black Knights, 55-23, in the last 16 minutes, resulting in a 92-60 rout of the 20-3 Knights. Frederick proved to be no match in the regional final, as Poly won its 19th straight playoff game, routing the 17-win Cadets, 80-43. The Engineers won their three playoff games by a +37.0 margin. For the year, Poly averaged scoring 74.5 points per game, while allowing just 42.3 points per contest, producing a +32.2 point differential. Lewis was named the Sun’s Co-Player of the Year, along with St Frances’ Adrian Baldwin. Murray, meanwhile, was named the Baltimore City Player of the Year, averaging 21.7 points per game, and shooting 65% from the field. Lewis was named to the All-Met First Team for a second year in a row, averaging 19.3 points, 13.4 rebounds, 4.4 blocks, and four assists per game. Ali, who started at point guard on all three of their state championship teams, was named to the All-Met Second Team, averaging 8 assists per game. Wallace, the senior forward, won his third state title with the Engineers. While those four seniors were moving on, things still looked up for Poly, with Lindsey, who hit five trifectas in the in the sectional final, and Evans, a top 50 player in his class, who had already garnered an offer from Georgetown. After a five year buildout, Coach Sam Brand had turned the Poly program from an afterthought into a juggernaut.
Notes; Lewis is currently playing his freshman season at Marquette. Through 20 games, Lewis is averaging 8.1 points and 6 rebounds in 21.5 minutes per game, putting him at fifth on the team in scoring, and second in rebounding. Lewis tipped in the game-winning points in the Golden Eagles 67-65 upset win over then #4 Wisconsin, finishing the night with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and two blocked shots; Murray, an LSU commit, is playing this season at IMG, who are currently 20-2, and ranked #4 in the country. Murray scored 37 points in a Ascenders win at the Sunshine Prep Showcase in December; Ali is currently averaging 7.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game, in 24.3 minutes per game at Howard University in an abbreviated (COVID related – team) freshman campaign. Ali leads the Bison in assists, and the 5’11 guard is third on the team in rebounding; Coach Brand holds a 188-66 record in ten seasons at Poly, guiding the Engineers to four city title game, three city league championships, five ‘Final Four’s’, and three state titles.
12 ‘72 Dunbar (16-0) Coach William ‘Sugar’ Cain > MSA A Champion, #1 in the Sun
Tony Brown 6’3 SR; Sun POY
Billy Snowden 6’3 JR; All-Met 1st
James ‘Box’ Owens 5’5 SR; All-Met 1st
Skip ‘Honey Dip’ Wise 6’3 SO; (Clemson)
Larry Gibson 6’5 FR; All-MSA HM (Maryland)
The ‘72 Poets were coming off a season that ended in turmoil, following a brawl that took place at the end of a 69-67 overtime win by Mt. St. Joe at Dunbar that resulted in numerous arrests. The fallout shook the local high school landscape to its core, as the Baltimore area Catholic schools departed the MSA Conference following the fracas, with several coaches saying they would never again play at Dunbar again, and the league handed down a penalty that would prohibit the Poets from hosting a home game in the ‘71-72 season, limiting them to 16 road games. While the Poets weren’t invited to the MSA Conference until the ‘56-57 season, because of segregation, some of the Catholic schools had been members since its inception in 1919. Coach William ‘Sugar’ Cain had a talented cast returning, but playing an entire schedule on the road was unheard of. To add, as successful as Coach ‘Sugar’ Cain was, his Poets hadn’t won the MSA A title in seven years, after winning their fifth conference championship in nine years in ‘65, when they put a bookend on to back-to-back conference titles. With the ‘71 season behind them, the Poets literally had a long road ahead. Sixteen games of long road. Coach Cain had a talented cast, as 6’3 senior Tony Brown was the most talented player in the city, James ‘Box’ Owens was the best point guard in the city, 6’3 junior Billy Snowden was one of the best in the city, and the Poets boasted the most talented sophomore and most talented freshman in the Baltimore region, 6’2 Skip Wise and 6’8 Larry Gibson, respectively. Brown’s talents on the court were well known in ‘Charm City’, having once scored 75 points in a BNBL game. The Poets recorded a pair of wins over Carver, a pair of wins Edmondson, and a pair of wins over Northern, all three division contenders. Only three opponents came within single-digits of the vagabond Poets. The most anticipated matchups in the area in ‘71 were the two games between the Poets and #3 City College, as the Black Knights were considered the top contender in the area to the Poets. In the first meeting, the Poets held a slim 58-56 lead early in the fourth quarter, before the Poets went on a 12-0 run, and eventually a 79-64 win. Brown scored 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while the freshman Gibson added 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The Black Knights had just one other loss, to DeMatha, and they looked to their second matchup with the Poets as an opportunity for a share of the league’s regular season title. But, before the season finale, Edmondson upset the Knights, clinching the Poets first MSA A title since ‘65. Still, the Poets had work to do, to complete their lofty goal. The Poets had come this far, and were one win of doing the unthinkable, going through a season undefeated while playing all of the games on the road. The Poets controlled throughout, putting away the Black Knights, 83-64, with Snowden scoring 26 points, and Wise tallying 21 points. Coach Cain’s Poets had done it, went 16-0, winning all of their games on the road. Brown was named the Baltimore Sun’s Player of the Year, after averaging 20.3 points and 17.6 rebounds per game. Dozens of colleges took an interest in Brown, including one John Wooden. ‘Box’ Owens and Billy Snowden joined Brown on the five man All-Met First Team. Brown was also named to the All-State First Team, while Owens was selected to the All-State Third Team. Snowden averaged 17.4 points per game. Wise averaged 18 points per game in his sophomore campaign, and Gibson was named to the All-Met Honorable Mention team as a freshman, averaging 10 points and 11 rebounds per game. Charles ‘Duke’ Richardson provided a spark off the bench. Cain was named the Sun’s Coach of the Year. Three weeks after winning the MSA A championship, Brown was fatally stabbed to death.
Notes; Brown had become the most highly recruited player to come out of Baltimore, at the time of his death. It was said UCLA Coach John Wooden sent the talented Poet a letter. At the time, Coach Cain was quoted as saying several times that Duquesne would have been a good fit for his senior; College credits for Wise and Gibson can be found in the ‘73 Poets notes, #4 on this list; Cain, who would retire after leading the Poets to a 19-0 record the following year, finished his 30 year tenure at Dunbar as the winningest coach in the area, with a 467-105 record. With The Poets MSA A title in ‘73, Cain had led the Poets to seven MSA A titles in their first 17 years in the conference.
11 ‘84 Dunrbar (30-2) Coach Bob Wade > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun, #2 in the USA
Mike Brown 6’4 SR; Sun POY; (Syracuse/Clemson)
Keith James 6’5 SR; All-Met 1st (South Carolina/UNLV)
Derrick Lewis 6’3 SR; All-Met 2nd (Northeastern/South Carolina)
Herman Harried 6’7 SR; All-Met 1st (Syracuse)
Taurence Chisholm 5’6 SR; All-Met 2nd (Delaware)
Terry Dozier 6’8 JR; (South Carolina, NBA)
Perry Dozier 6’9 JR; (South Carolina)
Coach Bob Wade’s ‘84 Poets were coming off a national championship season (and preceded another), and arguably, had produced the best team in the country for two straight years, national rankings, notwithstanding. Calvert Hall was outstanding, but many observers believe the Poets, who had beaten then #1 Camden NJ by 29 points on the road, were the best. The Cardinal beat the same team by five points on a neutral court. The ‘84 Poets lost a large load in the graduating class of ‘83, key members of both undefeated teams of ‘82 and ‘83. Reggie Williams, selected as Mr USA Basketball his senior year with the Poets, was now at Georgetown, where he’d win a national championship in his freshman season. Gone too was the magnificent ‘Muggsy’ Bogues, who was on his way to becoming one of the best Wake Forest Demon Deacons of all-time. Postman Tim Dawson was gone, as was future NBA All-Star Reggie Lewis. To name a few. But, Wade did have 6’4 senior Mike Brown returning, one of the best players in America. He had 6’6 senior Keith James, one of the best players in the city. He had Herman ‘Tree’ Harried at 6’7 in the middle, and Derrick Lewis ready to blossom at guard. Then there were the three transfers, senior point guard Taurence Chisholm from McDonogh, and junior twin brothers Terry and Perry Dozier, one a 6’8 talented wing, and the other a 6’9 rim protector. The Poets may have not been the favorites to win it all again in ‘84, but they certainly seemed to be part of the equation. To start, week one offered a heavy slate, as did week two. The Poets would begin with four games in four nights, versus three teams that finish ranked among the top 10 teams in the area – #3 Lake Clifton, #7 Edmondson, #9 Southwestern, and the team that would come in at #2 in the country, and finish the season as the top ranked team in the country – the DeMatha Stags, the preeminent high school program in the nation. After putting away Southwestern in the opener of the Poet-Laker Tip-Off Classic, the Poets traveled to McDonogh Gymnasium at Georgetown University to face the Stags. The Poets started strong, at one point hitting 14 straight shots in the first half, and took a 41-36 lead into halftime. The Stags started the second half with a 12-2 run to take a 43-38 lead, and eventually grew that lead to nine points, 66-57, before the Poets went on a 9-2 run spurred by Brown and closed it to 68-66 with 3:01 remaining. The two juggernauts exchanged baskets, then exchanged a basket and two free throws, when the Poets were offered their third opportunity to tie the score in the final minute. Eric Green was at the line with 30 seconds left, with the Poets down two, 72-70. Green hit the first, before missing the second, but Brown followed to give the Poets their first lead since early in the third quarter. The Stags went to power forward Carlton Valentine, who was fouled and hit both of his shots as the Stags regained the lead. Then, the Poets squandered their potential game-winning possession, as the Stags Quentin Jackson stole the ball and fed Danny Ferry, who hit both from the charity stripe, and the Stags pulled out a 76-73 thriller, snapping the Poets 60 game win streak. Brown finished with 37 points, on 17-26 shooting, adding 8 rebounds. The Poets rebounded the following night with a win over Edmondson, setting up a showdown with #3 Lake Clifton, in the final. The Poets used a strong fourth quarter to top the Lakers, 64-54, with Harried leading the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds. A week after opening with four ranked teams, the Beltway Classic hosted the Poets, Calvert Hall, Tolentine (Bronx), and the Stags, setting up a possible rematch with the Washington Catholic League power. First, the Cards, in the first matchup of the two teams since their 94-91 triple overtime classic in ‘81, the Poets last loss before losing to the Stags. The Poets looked sharp early, staking a 21-9 lead, before going cold, and seeing the Cards start to sizzle. The Cards countered the 21-9 Poets start, with a 21-10 margin of their own, to close their deficit to one, 31-30, at halftime. The Cards shot 52% in the second half, while the Poets, who shot 57% in the first half, shot 33% in the second, and finished 5-16 from the line, and the defending national champions suffered their second loss in eight days, losing to the ‘Hall’, 72-62. The prospects of a rematch with the Stags were extinguished. A rematch with the Cards, on the other hand, were almost as much probable as possible, if the Cards were to win the Catholic League, and the Poets won the city league. The Poets topped Tolentine in the third place game, a program that had won three of the last four New York City Archdiocese titles. The Poets traveled to New Jersey for the holidays, to partake in the Seagull Classic. After handling Atlantic City in the semifinal, the Poets crushed Philly public power Ben Franklin, 84-57, in the final. James led the Poets with 22 points, while Chisholm registered 14 assists. The Poets, who were incorporating several new pieces, started to gel, and rolled through league play. The Poets traveled to Pine Bluff, Arkansas for a tournament, and the Poets held on to a 58-57 win over nationally ranked Flint Hill, after watching a 44-34 lead dwindle to one. Lewis led the Poets with 18 points. The Poets dominated Lake Clifton in the MSA A championship, 72-49, after running out to a 26-9 lead. Brown led all scorers with 29 points. After defeating Douglass in the city league semifinals, 75-50, the Poets drained the Lakers for a third time, 68-54, winning their eighth straight city title. With the Poets winning the city title, and Calvert Hall holding up their end of the bargain, winning the private league championship, the Fuel Fund Metro Classic featured the anticipated matchup of the top two teams in the area, and top handful in the country. The Poets, who had won 27 straight games, despite a daunting schedule, saw a transformation to unity among the five holdovers and the three newcomers that was like night and day in the fourteen weeks since the loss to the Cardinals (and DeMatha). The Cardinals were 27-2, with a five point loss to DeMatha in the Beltway Classic final, and a 75-71 overtime loss to St. Anthony’s DC. Otherwise, unbeaten in the area and everywhere else. While the Cardinals came in at #1, and the Poets #2 in the Sun, and both ranked among the top five in the country, the Poets were thought to be the clear favorites by many. The Poets proved why, dismantling the Cardinals, 69-44, with Brown scoring 27 points, on 13-17 shooting, and hauling in 12 rebounds. Harried scored 14 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. The Poets held All-American Duane Ferrell to one field goal. The Poets shot 58% (31-53), while the Cards shot 33% (16-54). The Poets finished with a #2 national ranking, as the Stags won their third mythical national championship, following Coach Morgan Wooten’s troops in ‘65 and ‘78. The Poets, who recorded 10 wins over teams that finished among the top 10 in the Sun, in addition to wins over Flint Hill, Tolentine, Ben Franklin, averaged 88.2 points per game. Brown was named a Parade and McDonald’s All-American, and the Baltimore Sun’s Player of the Year. Brown averaged 19.4 points, six rebounds, and four assists per game. Brown shot 57% from the field, and 84% from the line. Brown came up big in the big games – including 37 points versus DeMatha, 29 points versus Lake Clifton in the MSA title game rout, hit the game-winner versus Flint Hill, and recorded 27 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Calvert Hall. James and Harried joined Brown on the All-Met First Team, with James averaging 15.8 points and four assists per game, and Harried supplying 14.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Both Lewis and Chisholm were selected to the All-Met Second Team. The Dozier twins, Terry and Perry, who had emerged as likely core pieces for the ‘85 Poets, were big role players for the #2 Poets, as was senior guard Eric ‘Smiley’ Lee. Coach Wade had led the Poets to a 203-12 record over eight seasons, dating back to the ‘77 season, and boasted a top five national ranking for the third year in a row.
Notes; Brown, along with Harried, went to Syracuse to play for Jim Boeheim, where he’d play for two years, before transferring to Clemson. In his freshman year for the ‘Orange’, Brown averaged 8.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. His sophomore season, Brown averaged 7.7 points per game. Brown averaged 8.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in his junior campaign, his only season at Clemson. Brown shot 44.7% from beyond the arc, his only season playing with the three-point line. In his final college game, a Tigers NCAA tournament loss to Missouri State, Brown scored 14 points, on 6-7 shooting; James started his freshman and sophomore seasons at South Carolina, before transferring to UNLV. As a freshman, James averaged 12.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. As a sophomore, James averaged 10.9 points per game. His junior season, James joined his brother, ‘Boobie’, at UNLV, following their older brother, ‘Spoon’, who played for the Runnin’ Rebels for two seasons. James averaged 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game in his junior season; Lewis joined James initially at South Carolina, before he too transferred. After a year in Columbia, Lewis left for Boston, where he joined former teammate Reggie Lewis, and former Lake Clifton star Kevin McDuffie, at Northeastern. In his sophomore campaign, Lewis averaged 14.5 points per game, and followed that up by averaging 14.6 points per game in his junior season. As a senior, Derrick Lewis led the Huskies in scoring, averaging 19.1 points per game; Harried stayed four years at Syracuse, playing in 117 games (1 start) as a back-up forward, and was a part of four teams that won 105 games, including five in the ‘87 NCAA tournament to advance to the national title game; Chisholm started for four years at Delaware, averaging 35.4 minutes per game over 110 games. Chisholm ranks as the Blue Hens all-time assists leader, with 877, holding the top four single-season marks in assists. Chisholm is also the Blue Hens all-time steals leader, with 298, holding their top three single-season marks in that category, as well. Chisholm averaged 8 assists as a freshman, 8.5 as a sophomore, 7.9 as a junior, and 7.5 as a senior. Chisholm finished his Blue Hens career with 1,159 points, and added 390 rebounds; College credits for the Dozier twins can be found in their senior year’s notes, the ‘85 Poets, #5 on this list.
10 ‘87 Lake Clifton (26-1) Coach Woody Williams > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun, #8 in the USA
Thomas Jordan 6’9 SR; All-Met 1st (Oklahoma State, NBA)
Kenny McNeil 6’3 JR; All-Met 1st (Northern Oklahoma)
Anthony Wiley 6’4 SR; All-Met HM
Ben Harlee 6’3 SO; All-Met 2nd (Northeastern)
Dana Jackson 5’10 SR
It was the early fall of 1986, Coach Woody Williams had served 15 years as the head coach for the Lake Clifton Lakers program he started from scratch in December of ‘71, but it looked as though the 44 year old Williams was headed to College Park to join Bob Wade as an assistant. Meanwhile, Dunbar was courting his top assistant and head junior varsity coach, Charlie Moore. The Lakers faced uncertainty. Astonishingly, Moore turned down the Dunbar job, thinking their was a high probability of Williams becoming a Terrapin, nevermind that the Poets program was considered one of the better handful of programs in the country. Turns out, Williams would have to wait before joining Wade, as the Terps weren’t willing to pay off the two assistants they had under contract. Instead, Williams returned, and Moore would wait, too. Williams and the Lakers caught both local and national high school aficionados by storm in the ‘74-75 and ‘75-76 seasons, in the program’s fourth and fifth years, ranking #3 in the country in ‘76, a year after ranking #12 in the nation in ‘75. But, it had been 10 years-plus since the Lakers swept the MSA A and City League titles ‘75 and ‘76. Dunbar had won ten straight city titles from ‘77-86, and nine of ten MSA A championships, with the Lakers providing the only blemish in ‘81. The Lakers had placed among the Sun’s final top 10 in eight of the last nine years, and placed among the top 5 in five of those years, but they took a backseat to Dunbar in the city league. The baton passing coincided with Ernie Graham transferring from ‘Lake’ to Dunbar, who had digressed to a 24-14 record over the ‘75 and ‘76 seasons, which included Archie Lewis’ second and final year, and Bob Wade’s first season in the first chair at Dunbar. Once Ernie arrived, it was back to Dunbar being the preeminent program in the city. The Poets had been the top ranked public school team in the area for ten straight seasons from ‘77-86, but in Woody Williams final season, there’d be a plot twist. The ‘86-87 Lakers were primed for a championship, with 6’9 senior Thomas Jordan in the middle, point guard Dana Jackson running the show, a talented 6’3 junior, Kenny McNeil, on the wing, and three of the best sophomores in the city in 6’3 Ben Harlee, 6’5 Ronald Lucas, and 6’7 Cleveland Melvin. After Moore turned down the Dunbar job, Edmondson’s Pete Pompey took over the boys program on Orleans Street. The Lakers faced solid competition throughout the ‘86-87 season, competing in a division with Dunbar, Southern, and Southwestern, accompanied with the two-game series that comes with each division foe. In addition, they’d open with the annual Poet-Laker Classic, then travel to Brooklyn and Tidewater, Virginia for tournaments. For a finale, if ‘Lake’ were to win the conference title, they’d face a likely matchup with St. Maria Goretti, the best of the Baltimore private school teams in the ‘86-87 season. The Lakers began making noise with a 72-68 win over the Poets in the Poet-Laker Classic, then holding on for a 57-56 overtime victory over their arch rival a week later, in the first of two league games. The victories were the first versus Dunbar since 1981. McNeil’s put-back in the second contest put ‘Lake’ up one, leaving the Poets a chance for either a go-ahead bucket or game-winner, but junior Sam Cassell was fouled and missed two free throws with five seconds left in the extra session. The Lakers topped Southern in the Classic’s semifinal, 72-68, the first of what would be four victories over the Bulldogs, including their two league games, and the city league semifinals. Jordan scored 20 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and blocked five shots in the opening week win. The Lakers would win a pair of games in Brooklyn, at Nazereth, topping John Jay and the host Knights. Over the holidays, the Lakers traveled to the Tidewater area in the Commonwealth, and returned with three wins, with victories over three of the area’s best teams – Maury, John Marshall, and Warwick. The Lakers needed a third (second in league play) victory over Dunbar to clinch the MSA Division I, and the Lakers did just that, but not before coming back from ten points down to start the fourth quarter, and escaped with a 70-69 win, to stay unbeaten, and earn a berth in the MSA A championship game versus Walbrook. The Poets coasted over the Warriors by 22 points in their one meeting in January, but found the second go around a much tougher task, holding onto a 54-51 win, with McNeil scoring 17 points and Jordan adding 15 points. The Lakers downed #2 Southern for a fourth time in the city league semifinals, with a 89-85 win that appeared much closer than it was. The Lakers led by 11 points with just over two minutes to play, before the ‘Dawgs’ narrowed the margin, but couldn’t overcome it. Jordan registered 22 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocked shots. Harlee and McNeil supplied 22 and 19 points, respectively. Walbrook awaited again in the title game, and again the Lakers pulled out a nail-biter, 47-45, winning their first city championship in 11 years, snapping the Poets streak of ten straight titles. The Lakers headed into the Fuel Fund Classic versus Goretti with a 26-0 record, an MSA A title, a city league title, three in-season tournament titles, and ten top 10 victories, including four over #2 Southern, and three apiece over both #6 Dunbar and #7 Walbrook. The Goretti Classic played before 4,870 at the Civic Center featured two of the most memorable moments ever witnessed in a high school game in this area. Jordan, frustrated after a disappointing first half, left the locker room at halftime at never returned to the arena. The Lakers led by 12 points in the second half before the Gaels, spurred by its star Rodney Monroe, made an incredible comeback. Still, it wasn’t until Monroe’s 60 foot heave at the buzzer that put the Lakers on the short end of a result, and the Gaels escaped with a 73-72 win. One second away from going 27-0. Still, the Lakers finished #8 in the country. Jordan and McNeil were named to the All-Met First Team, with Jordan averaging 22 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, and McNeil averaging 18.2 points per game. Harlee, who averaged 16.8 points per game, was named to the All-Met Second Team, as was the point guard Jackson, who averaged 8.3 assists per game. Wiley, the sixth man, was named to the All-Met Honorable Mention team. Williams would indeed move on to College Park shortly thereafter, hired as an Administrative Assistant to Athletic Director Lew Perkins. Williams led the Lakers to a 278-93 record in his 16 seasons with them, and walked away with MSA A and city league titles, all while leaving a formidable core for Moore the following season, with rising senior McNeil, and the three rising juniors in Harlee, Lucas, and Melvin.
Notes; After sitting out his first year at Oklahoma State, due to Proposition 48, Jordan played alongside three fellow future pros in his sophomore year, in Richard Dumas, Byron Houston, and Corey Williams. Jordan produced, averaging 13.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocked shots per game, ranking second in scoring, third in rebounding, and first in blocked shots, while shooting 58.6% from the floor. After a year in Stillwater, Jordan went to play professionally in Turkey. After several productive years overseas, Jordan was signed to a ten day contract by Philadelphia in ‘93. In his four games with the 76ers, Jordan remarkably averaged 11 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocked shots, in 26.5 minutes per game off the bench; Harlee ended up staying five years at Northeastern, after being granted a fifth year after a red-shirt designation after suffering a season-ending injury in the fourth game of what would be his senior season. Harlee averaged 12.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game as a sophomore, and 12.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game in his junior season, leading the team in scoring in both seasons. Harlee finished his Huskies career having scored 1,190 points.
9 ‘95 Dunbar (25-1) Coach Paul Smith > 2A State Champion, #2 in the Sun, #9 in the USA
‘Bootsy’ Thornton 6’4 SR; All-Met 1st (St. John’s)
Tommy Polley 6’5 SR; All-Met 1st (Florida State FB, NFL)
Billy Wells 6’2 SR; All-Met 1st (Tulane/Delaware)
Robert Foster 6’6 SR; (Drake)
Jeryl Singletary 5’7 SR
A year after being named the interim head coach of the Poets, Paul Smith had the interim title removed, and was head of the Poets program. Smith replaced Pete Pompey, his former Douglass Ducks teammate. Smith had led McDonogh to six MSA A titles in in 16 years there, and the Poets to a 24-3 record and a #11 national ranking in his first year in Orleans Street. The Poets put together four straight national top 25 seasons, finishing #3 in ‘91, #1 in ‘92, #17 in ‘93, and #11 in ‘94, so it’s no wonder the Poets weren’t folding the program after the graduation of All-Met forwards Norman Nolan and Rodney ‘Noodles’ Elliott in ‘94. After all, #3 the Poets survived despite losing ‘Scooter’ Alexander in ‘91, Donte Bright and Mike Lloyd in ‘92, and Keith Booth in ‘93. The ‘95 Poets outlook was promising, with four veteran senior starters, and a very talented junior. ‘Bootsy’ Thornton, a 6’4 senior swing man, would lead the Poets, fortified by 6’5 junior Tommy Polley, 6’6 Robert Foster, 6’2 guard Billy Wells, and 5’7 point guard Jeryl Singletary. While a 24-3 season and a national top 25 ranking is dreamed about for most programs, not at Dunbar, where the ‘Eastside Garden’ faithful had become accustomed to three national championships and six top 5 rankings. That 24-3 season and #11 national ranking in ‘93-94 fell behind Southern, who finished with just one loss and #2 in the country. It’s been said the head basketball coach position at Dunbar ranks only behind the mayor as the most difficult and scrutinized job in the city. Not only had Southern established themselves as a household name among basketball aficionados, but ‘Lake’ was always there, and the ‘95 Lakers were not only the Sun’s pre-season #1, but Charlie Moore’s squad opened the season with a #10 national pre-season ranking by Street & Smith. Coach Paul Smith and the Poets had their hands full, but what their hands didn’t hold was a scheduled meeting with the Lakers. Beginning their third season participating in the MPSSAA, the city league was making adjustments, aligning teams by classification, meaning Dunbar would be with the likes of Douglass, and four of the next five in the city outside the Poets grinded it out in the 4A Division, with ‘Lake’, Southern, Walbrook, and Southwestern, all battling within that division for that title. For the third year in a row, there was no city championship, a repercussion of joining the MPSSAA (the championship game, not playoffs would be reestablished in 1996), so the Poets and Lakers had no chance to meet there, and obviously, with the MSA dissolving, there was nothing there. There was a chance that the two could meet in the Charm City Classic final at Reitz Arena at Loyola University. But first, the Poets would have to get past Stephon Marbury and Lincoln out of Coney Island, and the Lakers had to overcome Coach Bob Hurley’s St. Anthony’s Friars, one of the best programs and teams in the country. Or, conversely, if both the Poets and Lakers were to lose, they’d face each other, albeit in a consolation game. The Poets began the season with a 62-57 win over Southern, then a 104-83 victory over then #4 Walbrook in the Tip-Off mixer, with Thornton pouring in 37 points. The Poets topped Bishop McNamara in the Fuel Find Classic, then walloped a pair of out-of-state teams at the Slam Dunk To The Beach holiday tournament, pummeling Hampstead NY, 71-37, then crushing one of Delaware’s best, Sanford, 62-40. Rolling through December, the holidays, and the first four weeks of January unscathed, the Poets faced Marbury and the Railsplitters, who were ranked #10 in the country. A year after watching Marbury torch them for 43 points in a contest in New York, the Poets held the star guard to 3-12 shooting and 12 points in the rematch, and the Poets pushed a one point game after three quarters (46-45) into a convincing 70-58 win, with a 24-13 margin in the final stanza. The Poets were incredibly balanced with Polley, Wells, Thornton, and Foster, scoring 17, 16, 15, and 14 points respectively. Meanwhile, there’d be no matchup with Lake Clifton, as St. Anthony’s routed the Lakers, 79-47, handing the home team their first loss. The Poets and Friars would face each other for the sixth time in eight years in the Charm City final, with the Friars holding a 3-2 advantage. The Poets led early, before the Friars used a 17-1 run to take a 15 point lead. But unlike Lake Clifton the night before, the Poets clawed away at the margin and even took a lead of their own before the Friars pulled out a 68-66 win, handing the Poets their only loss of the season. Foster led the Poets in scoring with 22 points. So close, yet so far. With no city playoffs or championship game, it was on to the MPSSAA playoffs, where there’d be little drama. The Poets rolled through their regional, beginning with a 118-63 pummeling of Decatur in the regional final, and ending with a rout of two-time state champ Cambridge – South Dorchester in the regional final, 82-60. Thornton led the scoring with 26 points, and Polley added 21 points and 13 rebounds. The Poets drained Edgewater in the state semifinal, 80-55, as Thornton buried 33 points. The state final versus Oakland Mills was much of the same. After the Scorpions took an early 14-10 lead, the Poets outscored their opponents 90-44 over the next 27-plus minutes, leading to a 100-58 victory, to claim their third straight state title, and push their overall three year MPSSAA playoff record to 12-0, boasting a +32.2 point margin over those dozen games. Thornton scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the title game victory. In their four playoff games, Thornton averaged 28 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per contest. Foster, who missed the ‘94 season because of a heart problem, and the beginning of his senior season with a broken foot, scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the state championship game. For the season, the Poets averaged 90.5 points per game. Thornton was named to the All-Met First Team, averaging 22.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. Polley, the only junior in the starting lineup, joined Thornton on the All-Met First Team, as did Wells. Polley averaged 15.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game, and Wells added 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game. Foster was named to the All-Met Honorable Mention team, averaging 12.5 points and nine rebounds per game. Singletary, the point guard, was the Poets fifth double-digit scorer, averaging 10.3 points and adding 6.5 assists per game. The Poets finished ranked #9 in the National Prep Poll, while ‘Lake’ finished #18 in that poll. The Lakers, who, like the Poets, finished with a lone loss to St. Anthony’s, finished #11 in the USA Today, while the Poets didn’t arrive in the rankings until the season-ending edition, finished at #25. Still, February 19, 1993 remained as the last time the Poets and Lakers played each other, going a full two seasons without a matchup between the ‘Eastside’ juggernauts. Coach Smith had produced two state championships, two national top 25 rankings, and a two year record of 49-4.
Notes; Thornton played his junior and senior seasons at St. John’s, and was a two-time All-Big East selection. As a junior, Thornton, playing alongside Ron Artest, averaged a team-high 14.9 points per game, adding 4.5 rebounds contest, and shooting 50% from the floor. Thornton poured in 40 points in a overtime loss to Duke. As a senior, Thornton averaged 15.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and a team-high 2.4 steals per game. Thornton played 14 seasons overseas, winning the Italian League championship three times, including ‘08, when he was named to the All-Euroleague Second Team. A year later, Thornton won the Turkish League championship, and was named the Turkish League Finals MVP; Polley, who was ranked among the top 60 basketball players in his class, went on to play football for Bobby Bowden at Florida State, before a injury shortened his five year NFL career. Polley finished his Seminoles career with 289 tackles, and was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award in his senior season. As a junior, he led the Seminoles in tackles, with 109, and was named to the All-ACC First Team. In his his senior season, Polley registered 100 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, broke up 7 passes, and recovered three fumbles, and earned All-American Third Team honors. Polley was drafted in the second round (42nd overall) by the St. Louis, and started for four years with the Rams. As a rookie, Polley recorded 85 tackles (67 solo), not including a game-high 11 in the 20-17 Super Bowl loss to New England. Two years later, Polley’s four interceptions tied for a team high, to go with his 70 tackles, and six tackles for loss. After four years in St. Louis, Polley played his fifth and what would be final season with Baltimore, and left the game leading his team in tackles (97) and solo tackles (73). A shoulder injury ended Polley’s career; Wells played two seasons for Perry Clark at Tulane, before finishing his career at Delaware. In his senior season, Wells led the 20-win Blue Hens in minutes played, averaging 32.3 minutes per game, and ranked second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game, co-led in steals, at 1.8 per clip, and was third in assists, at 2.3 per game; Foster played two years at Drake, and his sophomore season was seventh on the team in minutes played and scoring, sixth in rebounds, and tied for second in assists.
8 ‘76 Lake Clifton (22-2) Coach Woody Williams > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun, #5 in the USA
Arnold ‘Clyde’ Gaines; All-Met 1st (Wisconsin)
Robert Brown 6’7 SR; All-Met 1st (Florida A&M)
Rodney ‘Pop’ Wright 6’4 JR; All-Met 2nd (Drake)
Ernie Graham 6’7 JR; All-Met 2nd (Maryland)
Kevin Graham. 6’8 SR; (SC CC)
Lance Hill 6’4 SO; (Kansas)
Coach Woody Williams led the Lakers to MSA A and city league championships in just the program’s fourth year in ‘75, usurping Dunbar’s three year reign in the city. After coaching at Edmondson for five years, Williams stepped in to start the Lake Clifton football and basketball programs, as well as serving as the Athletic Director. The Lakers looked to serve as an ‘Eastside’ arch rival to the Poets on Orleans Street. With Larry Gibson having graduated from Dunbar in May, the veteran laden Lakers looked to be the favorites in the Baltimore area in ‘76, returning four starters from a ‘75 team that went 24-2 and finished ranked #12 in the country. The ‘75 Lakers lost to DeMatha by three points in the finals of the prestigious season-ending Knights of Columbus Tournament. The only other loss the Lakers suffered in the ‘74-75 season was to host Maggie Walker VA, 74-72, in overtime, in a holiday tournament in Richmond. The Lakers clinched their first MSA A title, and won the inaugural Baltimore City Public School championship. Williams’ ‘76 squad featured seniors Arnold ‘Clyde’ Gaines, Robert Brown, and Kevin Graham, along with juniors Rodney ‘Pop’ Wright and Ernie Graham, Kevin’s brother. Gaines, Brown, and Kevin Graham, were All-Met First Team selections as juniors, and Wright and Graham were All-Met Second Team picks as sophomores. The Lakers had size, with their guards – Gaines, Wright, and Ernie Graham, standing at 6’4, 6’4, and 6’6, respectively, and Brown and Kevin Graham down low, playing larger than their 6’7 and 6’8 heights suggest. The Lakers filled out a formidable schedule, playing three of the four best in the DC Interhigh league, several private powers from Philly and DC, and compete in the second annual Baltimore City Public Schools tournament, featuring the top eight teams, four each from the two MSA A divisions. And, as it would turn out, play the #1 team in the nation not once, but twice, with the second meeting being one of legend. The Lakers began the season with a 74-50 rout of Dunbar before 3,600 at the Civic Center, with Wright leading the Lakers’ five double-digit scorers with 21 points. ‘Lake’ then put away DC Interhigh power McKinley Tech, 73-56, with Wright scoring 21 points, Brown adding 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Kevin Graham tallying 15 points and 13 rebounds. The Lakers downed Washington Catholic power Carroll, 73-59, in the inaugural Capital City Classic in Annapolis, with Wright scoring 25 points, and Gaines adding 20 points. In the Capital City Classic final, the Lakers erased an 11 point halftime deficit to beat the best Baltimore Catholic League team, Loyola, 70-67. The Lakers won the tournament playing without the Graham brothers, who were being disciplined by their parents for grades. Wright scored 22 points in the win over the Dons, and Gaines added 19. The Lakers continued to roll through league play, scoring 127 points on Douglass in the first meeting with the Ducks, and 98 in the second. ‘Lake’ scored 105 points on Carver, who finished #8 in the Sun’s final rankings. In a late season tilt, the Lakers faced then the nation’s #3 team in the country, Dunbar of DC, at McDonogh Arena, featuring the 19-0 Lakers and the 20-0 Crimson Tide. The Crimson Tide were loaded with talent, headlined by forward Craig ‘Sky’ Shelton and guard John ‘Bey Bey’ Duren, both who would go on to Georgetown, and Kenny Matthews, who would play at NC State. The Lakers started the fireworks early, displaying rim rattling dunks in the pre-game warm-ups, a ‘no-no’ at the time, garnering a pair of technical foul shots for the ‘Tide’. The Crimson Tide controlled the game early, but the Lakers stayed within striking distance, before making a run late in the third quarter that led to a back and forth final stanza. The Crimson Tide responded all three times the Lakers tied it in the final minutes, and then a fourth, that would prove to be the game-winner. Brown appeared to have a steal, to give the Lakers a chance for a game-winner, but the ball bounced out of bounds, and Duren provided the game-winner in the Crimson Tide’s 74-72 win. The Lakers would win their second consecutive MSA A title, topping Northwestern, 69-54, with all five starters scoring in double figures. In the city league semifinals, the Lakers received a scare from Southern, before pulling away from the Bulldogs, 80-74. Kevin Graham led the Lakers with 24 points. The Lakers met Northwestern for a second title game in nine days, in the city league title game, and came away with a 68-59 win. For a season finale, the Lakers partook in the prestigious Knights of Columbus Tournament, featuring four of the top 25 teams in the country – #1 Dunbar, #5 Lake Clifton, #10 Eastern DC, and #21 Tolentine NY. In the quarterfinals, the Lakers routed Philadelphia Catholic League champion Cardinal Dougherty, 90-67, with Ernie Graham leading all scorers with 23 points. In the semifinal, the Lakers handled nationally ranked Eastern, 73-56, as Ernie Graham scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to put away the nationally 10th ranked Ramblers. That presented another showdown with the top ranked team in the country, the Crimson Tide, in the KOC finals. The Crimson Tide found breathing room in the second meeting, and pulled away, 78-65, to win a mythical national championship. A year after finishing #12 in the country, the Lakers finished #5, losing only to the top team in the land. Gaines, Brown, and Kevin Graham were named to the All-Met First Team, while Wright and Ernie Graham were named to the All-Met Second Team. Up front, Brown averaged 15.6 points, 16.8 rebounds and 6 blocked shots per game, and Kevin Graham averaged 13.6 points and 17.6 rebounds per game. Gaines averaged 16.8 points, 7.8 assists, and 6.5 rebounds per game, while the junior Wright led the Lakers in scoring, at 21.7 per clip, adding 5 assists per game. Ernie Graham averaged 19.8 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. The Lakers won nine games versus teams that finished among the Sun’s top 10 teams in their final rankings, with victories over #2 Loyola, #4 Southern (2), #5 Northwestern (3), #7 Walbrook, #8 Carver, and #9 Dunbar. To add, the Lakers took out the #10 team in the country by 17 points, and trounced the Philly Catholic champ by 33 points. Coach Woody Williams’ Lakers had arrived in ‘75, and showed staying power in ‘76, with one of the most talented and successful teams ‘Charm City’ had ever seen.
Notes; Gaines played four years at Wisconsin, leading the Badgers in assists in each of his first three years. As a freshman, Gaines was fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.1 points per game. As a sophomore, he was third on the team in scoring, averaging 11.3 points per game. Gaines finished his Badgers career scoring 737 points, dishing out 290 assists, and grabbing 240 rebounds; Wright went on two years later to play in DesMoines, at Drake, where he was second on the team in scoring as a junior, behind Lewis ‘Black Magic’ Lloyd, averaging 16.4 points per game, and adding 4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. As a senior, he was again second on the Bulldogs in scoring, again behind the future NBA pro, averaging 16.7 points per game. As a sophomore, Gaines was third on the team in scoring, averaging 13.2 points per game, placed third in rebounding, at 5.6 per clip, and co-led the team assists, at 3.3 per game, while shooting 50.5% from the floor. In his three years at Drake, Gaines totaled 1,283 points, 371 rebounds, and 241 assists; Lucas, a sophomore on this team, played his final two years of college ball at Kansas State, where he averaged 4.7 points per game in each of the two seasons; College credits for Ernie Graham can be found in his senior year’s notes, the ‘77 Poets, #20 on this list.
7 ‘94 Southern (23-1) Coach Meredith Smith > 4A State Champion, #1 in the Sun, #4 in the USA
Kevin Simpson 6’5 SR; Sun POY (Dixie CC Utah)
Damon Cason 6’2 SR; All-Met 1st (Towson)
Dante Williams 6’5 SR; All-Met 1st
Dantavius Keating 6’5 SR
Marlin Wise 6’0 SO; (Towson)
Johnny Hemsley 6’4 SO; (Miami)
Entering the ‘93-94 season, the Southern Bulldogs had established themselves as a perennial city contender, but hadn’t splashed their name across the national high school basketball landscape like Lake had done several times (nationally ranked #12 in ‘75, #5 in ‘76, and #8 in ‘87), and certainly not like Dunbar (#2 in ‘82, #1 in ‘83, #2 in ‘84, #1 in ‘85, #3 in ‘91, and #1 in ‘92) had. Still, Coach Meredith Smith had put his program at the doorstep of a national ranking of one of the best dozen teams in the country. At the doorstep, and ready for the next step. Heading into the ‘93-94 season, Smith’s Bulldogs had placed among the area’s top 10 teams in the Sun’s final rankings for nine straight years, including ranking among the top three for five years straight – finishing #3 in ‘89, #1 in ‘90, #2 in ‘91, #2 in ‘92, and #2 in ‘93. Even when the Bulldogs finished #1 in ‘90, it wasn’t as if there wasn’t an argument with the Poets, who won the city league title, and with whom they split a pair of games, including the ‘Dawgs’ 60-57 victory in the MSA A title game. That year, the Bulldogs split games with Dunbar, Walbrook (won 2 of 3), and Cardinal Gibbons, accounting for their three losses. Though Woody Williams ‘75 and ‘76 Lakers received national recognition, it didn’t receive the notoriety that his last Lakers team did, in ‘87, with more publications devoting space for high school basketball. That was Williams 16th and final season at Lake Clifton, when the Lakers would sweep the MSA A and city league titles. ‘Sugar’ Cain had a memorable 16th season at Dunbar, as his ‘59 Poets won their second MSA A title in its third year in the conference. Coach Meredith Smith was looking for magic in his 16th season, and he had the magical ingredients to stir a delicacy, enriched with an abundance of talent, and several scheduled games against the nation’s best, putting the ‘Dawgs’ in a position to grab a national top 25 ranking, and leave no doubt who was the best team in ‘Charm City’ in the ‘93-94 season. While they were in a position to make a splash, Dunbar was the nation’s pre-season #8 team, headlined by 6’8 senior bookends Norman Nolan and Rodney Elliott, and Lake was returning four starters from a team that averaged scoring more than 90 points per game in ‘93, with Shawnta ‘Nut’ Rogers running the show. The ‘93 Bulldogs lost to Southwestern and Walbrook, but then eliminated both in the regional playoffs, before winning the 3A state championship in their first year in the MPSSAA. The 21-5 Bulldogs were returning four starters of their own, including 6’5 senior Kevin Simpson, 6’1 senior Damon Cason, and 6’5 senior Dante Williams. Simpson and Cason were All-Met First Team selections as juniors, and the Bulldogs won their last 13 games in ‘93 with Williams in the lineup. The Bulldogs had a schedule that could pave its way to a national championship, including at least three games versus teams ranked among the pre-season top 10 in the country – one probable matchup with Dunbar at the Function in the Junction, one game versus Rice NY at the Charm City Classic, and either Dunbar again or Simon Gratz on day two of the Charm City Classic. That doesn’t include a pair of league games with Lake Clifton, Southwestern, and Walbrook, or an opening round matchup with 4A defending champ Largo in the ‘Function in the Junction’ opener, or two possible games with either ‘Lake’, Southwestern, and/or Walbrook in the 4A North regional, or does it include a pair of 4A heavyweights the Bulldogs would meet if they were to survive and advance to the Final Four and beyond. The Bulldogs began the season with a rout of the defending 4A champion Largo Lions, 82-60, then held off the nationally ranked #8 Poets, 72-71, after coming back from 10 points down late in the third quarter, all without Williams, who was ejected with two technical fouls. In the first meeting between the two teams since February of ‘92, it was senior Dantavis Keating who was the key, hitting a bucket to cut the ‘Dawgs’ deficit to one, then grabbed the offensive rebound that led to Alfonso Hawes’ game-winning three-pointer for a 72-71 win. Keating scored 21 points in the win over the Poets, while Simpson scored 24 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in the win over Largo, with Cason matching Simpson’s game-high 24 points, and adding six assists. With the win over the Poets, the Bulldogs entered the USA Today top 25. The ‘Dawgs’ then opened league play with a 115-52 destruction of Mervo, followed by a 81-66 win over #3 Lake Clifton. Cason scored 28 points in the Lakers win, 16 in the fourth quarter. After routing Walbrook by 35 points, Southwestern stunned the Bulldogs in mid-January, 72-71, snapping the Bulldogs 25 game win streak. Rice NY, the #1 team in the country, with Felipe Lopez, the #1 player in the country, awaited in the Charm City Classic, and the Bulldogs notched their second victory of the season over a team in the USA Today top 10, after going 0-11 lifetime versus teams ranked among the nation’s top 25. Both Simpson and Williams scored 21 points in the 65-58 win. The following night, the Bulldogs took down the nation’s #6 team, Simon Gratz PA, 74-68, with Simpson torching Philly’s Bulldogs for 38 points. Southern had arrived. After avenging their loss to Southwestern in their second meeting with the Sabres, 83-74, and with no city playoffs, the Bulldogs looked to their stacked 4A North regional. For the third time in the season, the Bulldogs drained the ‘Lake’, 81-63, in the regional semifinal, before getting revenge on Southwestern a second time, 67-54, in the regional final. Williams scored 21 points in the win over the Sabres, while Simpson grabbed 15 rebounds. The Bulldogs put away the Washington Post’s top ranked team, Crossland, 71-55, in the state semifinal. The Bulldogs used a 14-0 run to push a seven point margin to an insurmountable 21 point advantage. Simpson scored 23 points in the semifinal, while Keating added 22 points. The Bulldogs put an exclamation point on a memorable season with a 68-58 win over Springbrook in the 4A state final. Simpson led the Bulldogs with 19 points in the title game victory. The Bulldogs finished ranked #4 in the country, the 10th Baltimore team to finish ranked among the top 10 teams in the country since ‘76 – ‘76 Lake Clifton, ‘82, 83, ‘84, 85 Dunbar, ‘82 Calvert Hall, ‘87 Lake Clifton, and ‘91 and ‘92 Dunbar. Simpson was named the Sun’s Player of the Year, after averaging 21.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. Simpson averaged 24.2 points per game in the three games versus the nation’s top 10 teams, and his two Final Four games versus two of the DC region’s best public school teams. Cason joined Simpson on the first team for a second year in a row, averaging 18 points and an area-leading 9.9 assists per game. Williams, who went 36-1 as a Bulldog, was selected to the All-City First Team. Seniors Keating and Hawes were key pieces for the Bulldogs, while 6’5 sophomore Johnny Hemsley and junior guard Marlon Wise gave the ‘Dawgs’ some bite going forward. The Bulldogs stood atop the Sun’s final rankings, with no arguments from anyone, and Smith’s 16th season was a magical one, registering three national top 10 wins, and a 4A state championship.
Notes; Simpson thrived in his two years at Dixie Community College in Utah, finishing with 1,397 points. Simpson averaged 21.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as a freshman, shooting 52.2% from the field. As a sophomore, Simpson averaged 25.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game, shooting 51.8% from the floor. After two years at Dixie, Simpson declared for the 1996 NBA Draft, but wasn’t drafted; Cason played five years (redshirted freshman year after playing three games) at Towson, and finished his Tigers career with 604 points and 321 assists, splitting time with fellow Bulldog Marlin Wise; Wise finished his Tigers career with 436 points and 257 assists; Coach Meredith Smith, who coached the Bulldogs from ‘79-02, finished with a career record of 414–145 in his 24 seasons in Federal Hill, winning four regional champions, three state championships, and placing his Bulldogs in five city title games. College credits for Hemsley can be found in his senior year’s notes, the ‘96 Bulldogs, #29 on this list.
6 ‘91 Dunbar (27-1) Coach Pete Pompey > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun, #2 in the USA
‘Scooter’ Alexander 6’3 SR; Sun POY (Towson)
Donte Bright 6’6 JR; All-Met 1st (Massachusetts)
Mike Lloyd 6’2 JR; All-Met 1st (Syracuse)
Keith Booth 6’5 SO; All-Met 1st (Maryland, NBA)
Cyrus Jones 6’1 JR; (West Virginia)
Paul Banks 5’9 JR; (Texas-Arlington)
Four years after Bob Wade left for College Park, the Poets had mixed results over those four years for their standards. From ‘77-86, Wade’s Poets had swept the MSA and Baltimore City League titles in nine of those ten seasons, winning 19 of 20 championships overall. Since Wade left, the Poets had swept the prestigious titles in the same season just once in four seasons, and had won four of the eight titles (MSA, City League) awarded over those four years. After finishing as the top ranked city public school team for straight ten seasons, the ‘90 season was the second time in four years they were not, when Southern finished #1. The Poets were still young, but the young talent looked to be primed to take the Poets program back among the nation’s heavyweights. The ‘91 Poets returned 6’3 senior ‘Scooter’ Alexander, and two of the best juniors in the country in 6’6 forward Donta Bright and 6’2 point guard Mike Lloyd. To add, Coach Pete Pompey’s Poets boasted one of the top sophomores in the country, 6’5 Keith Booth. Not only did the Poets have the ingredients to reestablish themselves as the best team in the Baltimore region, they had a roster that appeared to be able to play against anyone in the country. That anyone would include St. Anthony’s NJ, Bob Hurley’s program that was considered, like Dunbar, one of the top programs in the country. The ‘91 Poets would play the Friars not once, but twice. The Poets would play in a handful of tournaments, including the Nike Kenner Tournament in DC to open the season, featuring nationally ranked #21 Dunbar of DC, then the Skyline Classic in New Jersey, featuring the Friars, ranked #3 in the country, and the Gonzaga Classic in DC, featuring both the Crimson Tide and Friars. Then there was a tournament in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and a showcase in Roanoke. Following the success of the Poets of the late 70s and early 80s, every subsequent Poets team had to be prepared for a road show. Despite their ‘mixed results’ over the last four years, the Poets were still considered a measuring stick for fledging national programs, and were coveted by tournament directors. Outside of those tournaments, the Poets faced a grueling league schedule, which by ‘91, had added Baltimore privates back in the mix in the MSA. The Poets played Walbrook, Mt. St. Joe, Calvert Hall, Towson Catholic, and Northwestern, all twice in league play. The Poets would also play the nationally ranked Dunbar Crimson Tide three times, Southern three times, and Lake Clifton three times. And of course, the Friars, twice. The Poets took out Coolidge DC, 75-58, in the semifinals of the Nike Kenner Tournament, before taking on their namesake in DC, the Crimson Tide, ranked #1 in the Washington Post, and #21 in the USA Today, three slots behind the Poets. The Poets handled the Crimson Tide, 84-68, in the first of three meetings between top 25 teams, as Bright scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half. Next up was the Skyline Classic, and St. Anthony’s. The then #3 Friars pulled out 66-65 overtime win, with Danny Hurley scoring 26 points, and Rodrick Rhodes 23 points. The following week was the Gonzaga Classic, where the Poets would play both Dunbar and St. Anthony’s again. The Poets topped the Crimson Tide a second time, 75-63, in the semifinals, setting up the second meeting between the Poets and Friars in eight days. The Poets broke open a 32-32 tie with a 9-0 third quarter run and exacted revenge on the now #2 Friars, 60-54. Alexander led all scorers with 21 points, while Bright added 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Poets traveled to Johnstown for the holidays and won their second tournament in nine days, holding onto a 58-55 win over Dunbar DC in the finals, their third victory over the Crimson Tide in December. The Poets entered the new year with the #5 ranking, and was trending upward. After an itinerary that included traveling to DC, New Jersey, back to DC, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and then to Roanoke in the first six weeks of the season, the Poets settled down into league play. And dominated. The Poets scored 118 and beat Towson Catholic by 48, and scored 105 on Calvert Hall and won by 64 points. The Poets spared no mercy on the two best teams in their six team division – Walbrook and Mt. St. Joe. A year after beating the Warriors in the city title game, the Poets stomped their crosstown rivals twice, scoring 91 and 93 points in their two meetings, winning by 36 and 39 points, respectively. In the Poets 91-55 victory over the Warriors, Lloyd registered a ‘triple-double’, scoring 22 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out 12 assists. Thirty years after the Mt. St. Joe and the Baltimore private schools left the MSA, the Poets punished their old rivals twice, 117-68, then 107-56, with Lloyd scoring 30 points, Alexander, 22, Bright, 20, and Booth, 19. The Poets ‘Big 4’ scored 91 points themselves on the Gaels. For reference, Walbrook finished #8 in the Sun’s final rankings, and the 21-win Gaels finished 10th. The average winning margin in those four games against the two top 10 teams in their division – +43.8. The Poets also knocked off the top two teams in the other MSA A division, #2 Southern and #4 Lake Clifton, three times each, including the Bulldogs in both the MSA A and city league championship games. The Poets trounced #3 Annapolis, who were the defending 4A state champions, 80-61. The Poets knocked out the Lakers in the semifinal round in both of the tournaments. The Poets topped the Lakers, 74-60, in the city league semifinals, before coming back to beat the Bulldogs in one of their few tests of the season, 59-55. The Poets played their worst half of the season before intermission in the city championship, hitting just 9 of 26 shots from the field, and 5 of 14 from the line, and trailed at halftime for the first time all season, 29-26. Alexander led the Poets in the fourth quarter, hitting back-to-back buckets after the Bulldogs had cut it to two, and the Poets held on. Alexander finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and four assists. In the MSA A 81-69 semifinal win over the Lakers, Bright poured in 34 points. The Poets then buried the Bulldogs for good this time around, 81-62, in the finals. The Poets won 11 games (11-0) versus teams that finished among the Sun’s top 10, including three each over both #2 Southern and #4 Lake Clifton, and another over #3 Annapolis. In those 11 games, which include a pair of victories over both #8 Walbrook and #10 Mt. St. Joe, the Poets average winning margin was +27.4. Add three wins over nationally ranked Dunbar, two by double-digits, and a rematch win over St. Anthony’s, and you finish with a #2 ranking in the country. For the first time in six years, the Poets finished among the top 10 in the country, and with Bright, Lloyd, and Booth returning, things looked on the up and up in the ‘Eastside Garden’ and for Coach Pompey. Alexander, who was named the MVP of three tournaments in his senior season, was named the Sun’s Player of the Year, averaging 18.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. Both Bright and Lloyd, both juniors, joined Alexander on the All-Met First Team. Bright, who was named the Evening Sun’s Player of the Year as a sophomore, averaged 16.5 points and 11 rebounds per game, while Lloyd produced 21.2 points, 10.8 assists per game, and four steals per game, leading the team in all three categories. Booth, the sophomore, was also named to the All-Met First Team, averaging 14.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Keith Washington, a 6’4 senior, was named to the All-Met Honorable Mention team.
Notes; Alexander shined at Towson, scoring 1,778 points over four years there, and currently ranks third all-time on the Tigers career scoring list, behind a pair of Baltimoreans – Walbrook’s Devon Boyd (2,000 ‘89-93) and City College’s Pat McKinley (1,832 ‘74-77). As a sophomore, Alexander averaged 19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, three assists, and two steal per game, shooting 50.2% from the field and 75.4% from the line. As a junior, Alexander averaged a team-high 17.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Alexander ranks third all-time on the Tigers career steals list, with 194. Alexander’s Tigers won the ECC tournament as a freshman, and the Big South regular season titles as a sophomore and junior; College credits for Bright, Lloyd, and Jones, can be found in their senior year’s notes, the ‘92 Poets, #2 on this list. College credits for Booth can be found in his senior year’s notes, the ‘93 Poets, #25 on this list.
5 ‘85 Dunbar (28-1) Coach Bob Wade > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun, #2 in the USA
Terry Dozier 6’9 SR; All-Met 1st (South Carolina, NBA)
Kurk Lee 6’2 SR; All-Met 1st (Western Kentucky/Towson, NBA)
‘Boobie’ James 6’3 JR; All-Met 2nd (UNLV/South Carolina)
Perry Dozier 6’10 SR; (South Carolina)
Sean Tyson 6’5 JR; (Clemson)
Reggie McNeil 6’3 SR
Eric ‘Smiley’ Lee 6’1 SR
The Dunbar Poets entered the 1984-85 season having finished among the top two teams in the country for three years straight. The Poets finished #2 in the country in ‘82 after finishing 28-0, won the mythical national championship in ‘83 after registering a 31-0 record, and finished #2 again in ‘84, trailing only DeMatha. By the ‘84-85 season, the Poets were a traveling showpiece, tournament directors were knocking Coach Wade’s doors down, hoping to entice the national juggernaut to play in their tournament, knowing the draw it would bring. The travel increased every year since the undefeated ‘82 season, and in turn, the level of competition rose every year thereafter. The ‘84-85 season would have the Poets travel to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Fort Worth, Texas, Philadelphia, and Erie, Pennsylvania. A scheduled trip to Florida was cancelled because of state rules requiring opponents to be a part of the state association of their respective states. Because the Poets competed in the MSA Conference and not the MPSSAA, tournament officials had to deny the Poets bid, and cancelled the tournament altogether without the main attraction coming to town. Amidst all of the traveling, the Poets still had to compete in the highly competitive MSA Conference, one of the best leagues in the country. In addition to the travel, and the league slate, the Poets would host Flint Hill, who had emerged as one of the top programs in the country, and should the Poets win their conference championship, they’d likely be matched up with nationally ranked Cardinal Gibbons in the season-ending Metro Classic. Though Wade’s program has established itself as a bonafide national contender, after three straight ‘top two’ finishes, and eight straight 20-win seasons, uncertainty surrounded the ‘84-85 Poets, with all five starters having graduated from the 30-2, #2 team in ‘83-84. The cupboard was far from bare, however, with the 6’9 and 6’10 Dozier twins returning, and a pair of high quality transfers coming in – senior Kirk Lee from Calvert Hall, and junior ‘Boobie’ James coming in from Douglass. James’ older brother Keith was a part of the ‘83 national championship team, as well as the 30-2 team in ‘84. The Poets also added a very talented 6’5 junior, Sean Tyson, who left Southern for the ‘Eastside Garden’. Adding to the punch was 6’3 senior Reggie McNeil, and senior guard Eric ‘Smiley’ Lee, Kurk’s brother. The Poets began the season completely dominating the Poet-Laker Classic, stomping Northern, 81-38, Walbrook, 81-38, and Lake Clifton, 53-28. Walbrook was ranked #7 in the Sun’s pre-season rankings, ‘Lake’, 5th. Then there were the trips to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Fort Worth Texas, in December. The Poets started with a 76-61 over one of New Mexico’s best, Hobbs, 76-61, and ended with a 57-35 win over highly regarded Whitehaven of Tennessee. Terry Dozier led the way in the win over Hobbs, scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, while Lee paced the Poets with 25 points versus Whitehaven, and was named the MVP of the King Cotton Tournament. Then it was off to Fort Worth for the Holiday Classic, where the Poets swept through another four games without a scratch, punctuated by a 74-44 victory over then 17-0 Highland Park TX. Lee and the Dozier twins, Terry and Perry, were named to the all-tournament team. The new year brought on a trip to Philadelphia, that would provide two games versus two of the top fifteen teams in the country. The Poets pulled out a 73-72 overtime win over #13 Dobbins Tech PA, coming back from 16 down in the second half to force overtime, and eventually stun the Mustangs, who featured a pair of future college stars, the late Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble. Lee followed his own miss shot at the buzzer to force overtime, then the Poets held off Philly’s best in the extra session when James hit a game-winning 20 foot jumper. Lee finished with 25 points, while James added 18 points. The following night, the Poets lost their only game of the season to Ben Franklin PA, the 15th ranked team in the country, 58-57. Lee had a chance to put the Poets up three with a ‘one-and-one’ opportunity, but missed the first, and the Electrons capitalized. Lee’s off balance potential game-winner missed, and Dunbar lost just its third game in four years. Lee scored nearly half of the Poets points in the loss, scoring 28 points. The Poets dominated league play, topping four Sun top 10 league foes (#4 Southwestern, #6 Walbrook, #7 Northwestern, #9 Lake Clifton) a total of 11 times, by an average margin of +26.2. In a late season February showdown, the Poets hosted nationally ranked #17 Flint Hill, and shut the Huskies down, staking a 30-12 halftime lead, and settling for a 56-44 win. The Poets made just 11 of 26 free throws, and still won by double-digits. Terry Dozier led all scorers with 20 points. In the city semifinals, the Poets took out #4 Southwestern for a third time, 77-55, with Terry Dozier scoring 24 points and hauling in 20 rebounds, Lee scoring 21 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists, and James registered 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. The city final wasn’t close either, as the Poets raced out to a 41-20 halftime lead over Northwestern, and beat the #7 Wildcats by 25 points or more for a third time, 76-43, winning their ninth straight city title. The Poets had taken the #1 spot in the country when St. John’s DC upset league rival DeMatha, and they were two games away from a second national championship. First, it was Walbrook in the MSA A final, and the Poets handled the #6 Warriors just as they did in the opening week of the season, when they trounced them by 43 points, racing out to a 39-14 halftime lead, and walking away with a 78-50 rout. The Poets won the MSA A championship for the eighth time in nine years. Terry Dozier led all scorers with 21 points. Last but not least, the Poets faced their fourth nationally ranked opponent, Cardinal Gibbons, who were currently ranked #17, in the Metro Classic, pitting the city league champion versus the Catholic League champion. Gibbons was highly regarded, with a pre-season rank of #4 in USA Today’s pre-season rankings. The Crusaders, playing without one of their two stars, 6’9 Rodney Walker, didn’t stand a chance, and the Poets built a 61-27 lead after three quarters, before taking a 88-61 victory. The Poets four stars all produced in the win, with Lee scoring 22 points, Terry Dozier scoring 17 points, and James and Perry Dozier scoring 16 points each. The Poets won their second national championship, and ranked among the top two teams in the country for a fourth year in a row. Lee and Terry Dozier were named to the All-Met First Team. Lee was named the Sun’s Player of the Year, after averaging 18.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. Dozier averaged 18.3 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, and was named a McDonald’s All-American. James, a junior, was named to the All-Met Second Team. Perry Dozier averaged 11 rebounds and four blocked shots per game. Tyson, a junior, and seniors McNeil and ‘Smiley’ Lee were also key contributors to the national champions. Wade had led the Poets to nine straight city titles, and eight of the last nine MSA A titles, and a national top 25 ranking in seven of those nine years.
Notes; Terry Dozier started all four years at Clemson, and finished his Gamecocks career having scored 1,445 points in 104 games. As a freshman, Dozier averaged 13.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, and as a sophomore, led the ‘Cocks’ in scoring, averaging 17 points per game, adding 5.4 rebounds per contest, and shooting 81.4% from the line. Dozier set a Metro Conference tournament record with 38 points in a win over Florida State. In his last game, a loss to NC State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, Dozier scored 22 points, shooting 8-13 from the field, 5-6 from the line, and added five rebounds. Dozier played nine games with the Charlotte Hornets in 1989. Dozier played four seasons overseas, and was named Australia’s NBL Defensive Player of the Year three times; Lee played two years at Western Kentucky, and started in two NCAA tournament games in his freshman season, including scoring 11 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, and dishing out four assists in a loss to Syracuse. After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, Lee played his final two years at Towson, where he became one of the top scorers in the country, averaging 25.4 points as a junior, and 26 points per game his senior season. In his final collegiate game, Lee registered 30 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out five assists in a NCAA tournament loss to Oklahoma. Lee scored 1,541 points in his two years at Towson, the most in any two year period for the Tigers, good enough for sixth on the Tigers all-time list. Lee shot 85.1% from the charity stripe in his two years at Towson; James played one year at UNLV, averaging 12.6 points and 3.6 assists per game. In a NCAA tournament loss to Iowa, his final game as a Runnin’ Rebel, James scored 21 points and handed out four assists. James transferred to South Alabama for his final two years, where he averaged 9.6 points and 3.9 assists over that time. In his final game as a Jaguar, James came off the bench to score 15 points and dish out four assists in a NCAA tournament loss to Utah; Perry Dozier played three years in a back-up role at South Carolina; Tyson played three seasons at Clemson, averaging 8.5 points and 4.1 rebounds for Cliff Ellis’ 26-win Tigers in 1990. Tyson scored 17 points, hauled in 11 rebounds, and dished out four assists in a NCAA tournament win over LaSalle. In his senior season, Tyson averaged 9.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
4 ‘73 Dunbar (19-0) Coach William ‘Sugar’ Cain > MSA A Champion, #1 in the Sun, *Top 5 in the USA
Skip ‘Honey Dip’ Wise 6’3 JR; Sun POY (Clemson)
Larry Gibson 6’8 SO; All-Met 1st (Maryland)
Billy Snowden 6’4 SR; All-Met 3rd
‘Duke’ Richardson 5’9 SR; All-Met 3rd
Charles ‘Petey’ Butler 6’0 JR
Tim Greene 6’5 SR
Coach ‘Sugar’ Cain’s Poets were coming off a year where they achieved the impossible, winning all 16 games on the road, but few if any could assume that they could ‘one-up’ the heroics of the ‘71-72 season. Following the end of season melee at Dunbar following the Poets 69-67 loss to Mt. St. Joe, denying them a bid in the MSA A championship game, the Poets faced league sanctions that didn’t allow any home games in ‘71-72, and forced the eventual champions to play every single game on the road. Behind seniors Tony Brown and ‘Box’ Owens, and with big contributions from 6’3 junior Billy Snowden, sophomore Skip ‘Honey Dip’ Wise, and 6’8 freshman Larry Gibson, the Poets went 16-0 and won their first MSA A title in seven years, after winning five of the first nine seasons they were a part of the MSA. Three weeks after finishing with the #1 ranking in the area, tragedy struck, when the Poets star Brown was stabbed to death. Brown, who was named the Sun’s Player of the Year in ‘72, was garnering interest from colleges across the country, more than any other city player before him. Despite all of Coach Cain’s success at Dunbar, heading into his 30th season on Orleans Street, Brown’s death was just one of a number of tragedies the longtime coach endured in his tenure at Dunbar. Less than three months later, Owens was arrested on narcotics charges, and served four years in prison. After 29 seasons, Cain gave serious thought about walking away. He could ride into the sunset with an undefeated season, a #1 ranking, and leading his team to a feat that was unprecedented – having to play every game on the road and winning them all. The talent would certainly be there for the ‘72-73 season, with Snowden, who was named to the All-Met First Team as a junior, the top rising junior in the city in Wise, and the top rising sophomore in the city in Gibson, all returning. The talent didn’t stop there, as the Poets also boasted senior guard ‘Duke’ Richardson, juniors Petey Butler and Donnie Joy, and 6’5 senior Tim Greene. Cain decided to return, buoyed by, as Dunbar’s Principal Raymond Carpenter explained, ‘the boys wanted him to.” Little did anyone know then what an impact Cain deciding to stay for the ‘72-73 season would have on the future of Baltimore City basketball, and the respect the Poets program would demand by winning the final, but most important game of Cain’s 30 year career. The Poets season would begin without the returning All-Met Snowden, who was being disciplined by Cain for poor grades, but the six others picked up the slack, and Cain’s squad put away Mervo, 97-58, in the opener. Wise led the Poets with 26 points in less than three quarters of work, while Gibson supplied 12 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots, despite sitting out the fourth quarter. Cain not only had the best starting five in the area, but also had the best bench in the area. Northern coach Manny Werner claimed, “They could bench the starting five and you’d never know the difference.” That may be a stretch, but point taken, nonetheless. After scoring 97 points in 32 minutes without his All-Met, while sitting his starters in the fourth quarter, Coach Cain knew he had something special in his final season. When it was all said and done, by the end of the season, high school basketball enthusiasts across the country would find out just how special Cain’s ‘72-73 Poets were. The Poets first early test was versus #3 Southern, and Cain’s charges lit up the scoreboard again, building a 79-55 lead after three quarters, landing with a 96-78 victory. Wise, the quickly emerging junior, scored 29 points and provided 14 assists. Gibson, Richardson, Butler, and Joy, all scored in double figures, while Gibson also added 15 rebounds and 8 blocked shots. Snowden returned in mid-January, after missing six games, but just in time to travel to #3 Edmondson, and host #2 Loyola, in the same week. The Poets exploded for 59 second half points to put away Edmondson for a 93-66 win, in a game that was tied at halftime. Wise scored 31 points, while Butler scored 19, and Richardson and Gibson each added 16 points, with the 6’8 sophomore center adding 18 rebounds. Wise scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, following Butler’s 13 points in the third quarter. When ‘Honey Dip’ wanted to pour it on, ‘Honey Dip’ poured it on. A day later, the Poets held just a four point lead over Loyola, before Wise scored 16 points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to put the Dons away in a 74-58 win over the #2 team in the area. Wise finished with 30 points. Just as the Poets were preparing for the first of two meetings with now #3 City College, the ‘72 MSA A runner-up, a local promoter, Dan Snyder, was trying to put together a high school basketball bonanza never seen before in ‘Charm City’ – a matchup of the Poets and the legendary DeMatha Stags, a program that was considered the best in the country, featuring an undefeated team that was considered one of the best in the nation in ‘73, and as good as their ‘65 version, who did finish #1 in the country. Obstacles stood in the way – negotiations for a venue (either the Baltimore Civic Center or in College Park), and a waiver from the MSA Conference to allow the Poets a 19th game. That was out of Cain’s control. He had to get his Poets ready for the Black Knights of City College. The Poets had their hands full for 25 minutes, as ‘City’ held a one point lead with just seconds more than seven minutes to play, before Wise took it to the next level again, scoring 8 points in a 10-2 Poets run pushing a 71-69 lead to a 81-71 margin, deeming the result all but academic. Wise and Gibson each scored 26 points, with the latter hauling in 15 rebounds. The Poets topped then #4 Edmondson a second time, 97-80, all but assuring their second MSA A title in two years with a win over City College in the regular season finale. Finally, on February 8th, the MSA granted the Poets a waiver to play the Stags in a monumental matchup, to be played at the Civic Center on February 24th. First, the Poets traveled to the ‘Castle on the Hill’, to take on the Black Knights, and clinch the conference title. Five days before the second meeting with the Knights, a scathing article about the Poets program was written in the Sun, titled ‘Failure Follows Dunbar Basketball Success’, chronicling the hard times and lack of major college exposure for the Poets former stars, save for Petey Harris, who played a season at McNeese State, before moving on to Stephen A. Austin, where he became one of the greatest Lumberjacks in its program’s history. To many, it seemed an untimely, if not unfair expose on the Poets coach who was finishing up his 30th season at Dunbar. Cain had two more games and he was done. With the Poets perhaps looking at the DeMatha game, they found themselves in their toughest test of the season, trailing the Black Knights by five points in the final stanza, before pouring in 36 points in the final quarter, and walking away with a 81-76 victory. The Black Knights, who finished #2 in the Sun’s final rankings, finished with two losses, both coming to the Poets. The Poets had beaten the #2 Knights twice, knocked off #3 Southern by 18, #5 Edmondson by 27 and 17 points, respectively, and #7 and Catholic League runner-up Loyola, by 16. Only one of the Poets 18 opponents had come within single-digits of the seven-time MSA champions – the Knights, in the regular season finale. The biggest matchup in Baltimore high school basketball history awaited, on a date when Maryland hosted Duke, Morgan State hosted Joe Pace and Maryland Eastern Shore in a battle of two of the best small college teams in the country, and the then Baltimore Bullets hosted the Portland Trail Blazers later that night in the Civic Center. The Stags carried their 43 game win streak, while the Poets had won 34 straight games, dating to their 69-67 overtime loss to Mt. St. Joe in ‘71. The Stags featured senior Adrian Dantley, who would be named Mr. USA Basketball weeks later, awarded to the top scholastic player in the country. The Civic Center was packed with more than 8,500 spectators to see the hometown Poets clash with the blue-blood Stags. Along with Dantley, the Stags featured Billy Langloh, who would go on to score 1,400 points at Virginia, and two-sport star Kenny Roy, who would go on to play in the NFL. After a first half tussle, the Poets were propelled by six straight buckets by Richardson, giving the Poets a 49-44 margin after three quarters. Then the ‘instant classic’ became the Skip Wise show. Just before the Stags Langloh cut the lead to three, 53-50, Wise started to take over. With the lead cut to three, Wise totally took over, and put on a performance that is still talked about nearly half of a century later. Wise scored 22 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter, hitting 8 of his 9 shots from the floor, many from 20 to 25 feet away, as the Poets ran away with a 85-71 monumental win. Morgan Wooton, the Stags Hall of Fame coach said, “It was one of the greatest shooting exhibitions I’ve ever seen.” Gibson scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and was a huge reason Dantley was limited to two field goals. Richardson added 16 points, including 12 in the third quarter. Cain, for his part, received a standing ovation from the crowd, a crowd that dwarfed the Bullets game (8,500 > 4,500) hours later. Cain had won his record 7th MSA title with the Poets, and finished with 466 wins, more than any other coach had ever won in the Baltimore area. Wise was named a high school All-American and the Sun’s Player of the Year, after averaging 22.4 points and 12 assists per game. Even those eye-popping stats don’t give justice to the way Wise dominated when the game was on the line, whether it was 20 points in the fourth quarter versus Edmondson, or 16 points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter against Loyola, or the incredible 22-point outpouring in the deciding fourth stanza versus the Stags. Gibson joined Wise on the All-Met First Team, with the talented sophomore averaging 16.2 points, 18.4 rebounds, and five blocked shots per game. Richardson and Snowden, who missed the first five weeks, were named to the All-Met Third Team. Joy was named to the All-MSA Honorable Mention team. Butler was a consistent presence for the Poets, and 6’5 senior Tim Greene showed his value, with 10 rebounds versus the Stags. The ‘72-73 Poets opened the door for the success that would follow on Orleans Street.
Notes; Wise went to Clemson and became the first player in ACC history to be named to the All-ACC First Team as a freshman, averaging 18.5 points per game, including scoring 30 points versus the eventual National champion, NC State. After a year at Clemson, Wise made an ill-fated decision to turn pro, and his career ended shortly thereafter; Gibson played four years at Maryland, and averaged in double figures in scoring in each of those four years, while averaging 8.4 rebounds over 101 games. In his senior season, Gibson was selected to the All-ACC team, averaging 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 55.1% from the floor, and 79.7% from the line. Gibson finished his Terrapins career having scored 1,198 points, grabbing 895 rebounds, and blocking 245 shots, while shooting better than 55% from the floor. Gibson’s 895 rebounds currently rank as the 7th most in Terps history.
3 ‘82 Dunbar (27-0) Coach Bob Wade > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #2 in the Sun, #2 in the USA
David Wingate 6’5 SR; Parade A/A 2nd (Georgetown, NBA)
Reggie ‘Russ’ Williams 6’7 JR; All-Met 1st (Georgetown, NBA)
‘Muggsy’ Bogues 5’3 JR; All-Met 1st (Wake Forest, NBA)
Gary Graham 6’4 SR; All-Met 2nd (UNLV)
Tim Dawson 6’6 JR; (George Washington/Miami)
Reggie Lewis 6’7 JR; (Northeastern, NBA)
Keith James 6’4 SO; (South Carolina/UNLV)
The 1980-81 Poets finished 24-3, dallied in the national rankings, and won the Baltimore City Public Schools championship. That wasn’t enough. Heading into the ‘81 MSA A final, the Poets were 24-1 and looking at a possible national top 10 ranking and their fifth straight conference title. The Poets had won 22 straight games since losing to Lake Clifton in the final of the Poet-Laker Classic in early December. The loss was the Poets first loss versus a Baltimore area team since the spring of 1976. But, the Poets rebounded to win a pair of games over the Lakers, including in the city league championship. Then, the Lakers pulled out a thrilling 62-61 double-overtime victory over the Poets, snapping their four year MSA A title streak. Following that, the Poets lost a heartbreaking 94-91 triple-overtime game to Calvert Hall in the season finale before more than 5,000 at Towson Center. The Poets blew a four point lead in the final minute of regulation against the Lakers, and a nine point lead in the final 90 seconds of regulation versus Calvert Hall. Heartbreak hotel. While Calvert Hall returned the majority of its rotation in ‘81-82, the Poets did return rising junior Reggie Williams, who was named to the All-Met First Team as a sophomore, senior David Wingate, who was named to the All-Met Second Team, and his classmate, the talented Gary Graham. Then came the cavalry. A year after Wingate came over from Northern, game-changing junior ‘Muggsy’ Bogues transferred from Southern, 6’7 junior Tim Dawson arrived from Towson Catholic, and Reggie Lewis pulled up from Patterson. Though Bob Wade’s Poets boasted a nice array of talent in his first six years at Dunbar, it was nothing like this. Despite having to add the new ingredients, the Poets looked like a well-oiled machine from the jump, beginning with a 90-36 annihilation of Edmondson in the opener, in the quarterfinals of the third annual Poet-Laker Tip-Off Tournament. The Poets finished the three day tournament like they began it, routing Lake Clifton, 76-45, in the final, with Williams pouring in 31 points. The Poets followed that trio of victories with a convincing 53-36 win over perennial DC Interhigh power McKinley Tech, with Williams pacing the Poets with 21 points. Over the holidays, the Poets headed to Manhattan, for the Harlem City Holiday Classic, before notching three victories, including a 64-56 victory in the Madison Square Garden over Fort Hamilton in the final. With Williams and Bogues battling foul trouble in the second half, Graham and Wingate picked up the slack, with the former recording 17 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out 7 assists, and the latter adding 14 points and 12 rebounds. Still, Williams and Bogues made the all-tournament team. The Poets topped East Orange NJ in the quarterfinals, before dispatching Rice NY, 77-51, in the semifinals. The Poets then hosted the third best team in the MSA (behind the Poets and ‘Lake’), Walbrook, and ran out to a 36-19 halftime lead, before cruising to a 70-57 victory. Williams scored 23 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, while Dawson added 17 points and 9 rebounds. In a second match with Lake Clifton, the Poets sprinted to a 25-11 first quarter lead, before coasting to a 72-45 blowout (without Bogues) of the #3 Lakers. Williams and Wingate each scored 19 points. The Poets and Calvert Hall were tracking each other, as both came into February undefeated, with the Cardinals holding onto the top ranking in the country, and the Poets skyrocketing up the national polls, after sitting just outside the top 25 in the pre-season rankings. While the Poets were winning their holiday tournament in the Madison Garden, the Cards were winning a holiday tournament in Las Vegas. In early February, the Cards solidified their top ranking with a 68-63 win over #2 Camden NJ in the Spectrum in the Philadelphia. The Poets would travel to Camden three weeks later, to take on the top 5 Panthers, featuring high school
All-American forward Billy Thompson and All-State guard Kevin Walls. The Poets dismantled the Panthers, taking a 27-13 lead after one quarter, before carrying a 50-21 lead into intermission, with Williams scoring 19 first half points. Wingate dominated at the offensive end, hitting on 14 of 18 shots and scoring 31 points, while Bogues grabbed 6 steals, dished out 12 assists, to go with his 15 points. The Poets 84-59 win was the worst home loss the Panthers had seen in 17 years. Calvert Hall had beaten Camden by five points on a neutral court, while the Poets trounced Camden by 25 points on the road. The Poets rose to #2 in the country, finishing behind the Cards. It was becoming clear that the Poets and Cards would never meet in the ‘81-82 season, as Cards Coach Mark Armatucci’s suggestion of playing after the Alhambra Tournament in late March in Western Maryland seemed unrealistic, considering the Poets wouldn’t have played for five weeks. Many thought Armatucci didn’t want to jeopardize the Cardinals undefeated record and #1 ranking. “They’re (the Poets) the best team I’ve ever seen”, declared Camden coach Clarence Turner, whose Panthers lost to both the Poets and Cards. “They are better than Calvert Hall by 20 points. Their little guard [Bogues] was phenomenal.” Turner went on, “All them boys up front are better than anyone Calvert Hall has. If I were ranking, I’d rank them as the best I’ve seen.” The Poets routed Douglass in the Baltimore City Public School quarterfinals, 98-51, before dispatching Carver for a third time, 78-53, in the semifinals. Wingate scored 27 points for the Poets, who took a 26 point halftime lead. The Poets topped Lake Clifton for a third time as well, taking a 63-47 victory in the final, breaking open a 45-43 lead with a 18-4 margin in the fourth quarter. Bogues dominated at both ends, setting up dunks and layups on one end, and causing havoc and grabbing steals at the other. Bogues was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Williams scored 23 points, while Wingate and Graham added 16 points apiece, as the Poets captured their sixth straight city title. The Poets and Lakers would meet six days later in the MSA A Conference final, and for a fourth time, the Poets handled the Lakers without a scare, posting a 66-48 win. Bogues, who went 10-10 from the line, and Graham, each scored 16 points, as the Poets won their fifth MSA A title in six years. Only one team came within single-digits of the Poets all season – Fort Hamilton, who lost by 8 points, in front of their hometown Madison Square Garden crowd. The Poets topped the next three best teams in the MSA – ‘Lake’, Walbrook, and Carver, a total of nine times, by an average margin of +25.2. As for the Calvert Hall game, it was the greatest game never played. The Cardinals finished #1 in the country, the Poets, #2. The pair shared top honors in the Sun, while the Cards took the top spot in the Evening Sun, and the Poets took the top spot in the Eastern region in the Eastern Basketball magazine. Wingate was selected to the Parade All-American Second Team, averaging 21.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. Williams was also named to All-American teams as a junior, leading the Poets in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 24.2 points and 12 rebounds per game. Bogues was named to the Evening Sun All-Met First Team, and the Sun’s second team, averaging 10.1 points, 9 assists, and 5.3 steals per game. Graham was named to the Sun’s All-Met Second Team, joining Bogues, averaging 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. Dawson was emerging as one of the best big men in the city, and Lewis proved he could be called on to score off of the bench. Wade would be losing Wingate and Graham, but ‘82-83 looked bright, with Williams, Bogues, Dawson, Lewis, and Keith James returning, and surely some ‘incoming’.
Notes; Wingate played four years at Georgetown, playing in 139 games, and starting in 133. The Hoyas won 115 games (28.8 per) in his four years at Georgetown, and the former Poets star started in two national championship games, including scoring 16 points in the Hoyas ‘84 title game win over Houston. Wingate also scored 16 points in the Hoyas 66-64 title game loss to Villanova a year later. Wingate was named to All-Big East Second Team twice, and Third Team once. Wingate registered 1,781 points, 494 rebounds, 364 assists, and 209 steals in his four years at Georgetown. When Wingate finished, he ranked third on the Hoyas all-time scoring list, he currently ranks 7th. Wingate ranks 10th all-time on the assists list, and 5th on the all-time steals list. Wingate was selected in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, and stuck around in the league for 15 years. Wingate, who played with six teams, scored 4,166 points, 1,420 rebounds, 1,376 assists, and 597 steals over his career; Graham played for four years under Jerry Tarkanian in Las Vegas, playing in 136 games. His senior season, Graham averaged 10.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game for a Runnin’ Rebels team that went 37-2 and reached the ‘87 Final Four, before losing to Indiana in a 97-93 shootout in the semifinal. Graham scored 18 points in 14 minutes off the bench in a 1987 NCAA tournament opening round win over Idaho State. The Runnin’ Rebels went 126-14 in Graham’s four years in Las Vegas; College credits for Williams, Bogues, Lewis, and Dawson, can be found in their senior year’s notes, the ‘83 Poets, #1 on this list. College credits for James can be found in his senior year’s notes, the ‘84 Poets, #11 on this list.
2 ‘92 Dunbar (29-0) Coach Pete Pompey > MSA A Champion, McDonald’s Classic Champion, #1 in the Sun, #1 in the USA
Donte Bright 6’6 SR; Parade A/A 1st, Sun POY (UMass)
Mike Lloyd 6’2 SR; All-Met 1st (Syracuse)
Keith Booth 6’6 JR; All-Met 1st (Maryland, NBA)
Cyrus Jones 6’2 SR; (West Virginia)
Alexander Mobley 6’6 SO; (Maryland Eastern Shore)
Paul Banks 5’9 SR; (Texas-Arlington)
Though the Poets program had boasted forty years of success, no team outside the legendary ‘83 Poets team had the level of expectations coming into a season like the ‘91-92 Poets had heaped upon them. The traveling heroics of their ‘72 edition that won all 16 games on the road wasn’t expected, neither was the monumental win over DeMatha a year later. In ‘82, when the Poets finished #2 behind Calvert Hall, the Poets started the year ranked #32 in the pre-season, based on votes of those polled. The ‘85 team that won the second national championship was extremely talented, but wasn’t expected to finish #1 in the country. The ‘92 Poets had the largest target on their back, they began with the #1 pre-season rank in all of the publications, returning a ‘Big 3’ from a team that finished #2 in the country in ‘91. Senior Donte Bright was considered one of the best forwards in the country, and was named the metro area’s Player of the Year as a sophomore. Senior Mike Lloyd was considered one of the best point guards in the country, and like Bright, was a returning All-Met First Team selection, as was junior Keith Booth, considered one of the best players in the country in his junior class. Winning a third mythical national championship would be earned, as the ‘92 Poets traveled to Honolulu, Myrtle Beach, St. Louis, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and Erie, Pennsylvania, for the McDonald’s Classic. To say nothing of playing a pair of national top 10 teams here in the Charm City Classic, or compete in one of the toughest leagues in the country, the MSA A Conference, and survive and advance in the league playoffs. The ‘92 Poets would play nine teams that were currently ranked among the top 25 teams in the country when they played. Eight of the nine were ranked among the top 15 in the country, and four in the top 5. When it was all said and done, the Poets would travel more than 13,000 miles, win seven tournament or national showcases, and win the third mythical national championship in the program’s history. The season began in Johnstown, at the Cambria War Memorial Tournament, where the Poets topped the nation’s #3 team, Simon Gratz PA, featuring Rasheed Wallace, 52-49, in the final. The Panthers led 43-39, with 3:38 to play, when the Poets went on a 7-0 run, sparked by Lloyd, and held on for a three point win. Bright led the Poets with 20 points. After pummeling Mt. St. Joe, 115-66, in their league opener, the Poets traveled to St. Louis to play in the Coca-Cola KMOX Shootout, and take on four-time Missouri state champion Vashon. The Poets dominated the Wolverines, 72-49, with Lloyd registering 24 points and 11 steals, and Bright adding 22 points. Then it was on to Honolulu, to play in the Iolani Classic. The Poets knocked out two of Hawaii’s best, before handling two of the nation’s best in the semifinals and championship game. The Poets beat Hawaii defending state champ Kamehameha School and Hawaii state power and host Iolani, before taking out the nation’s #15 ranked team, Fairley of Tennessee, 82-48. In the finals, the Poets topped #10 Harker Prep MD, 75-56, in the final. It was home for three days, then off to Myrtle Beach to compete in the Beach Ball Classic that featured six of the nation’s top 25 teams among its eight entrants. After getting past #23 Louisville Male KY in the quarterfinals, the Poets met St. Raymond’s NY, who had grabbed Simon Gratz’ PA #3 national ranking, in the semifinal. The Poets built a 42-26 halftime lead, and though the Ravens clawed back, it wasn’t enough, as Bright scored 24 points, Lloyd, 22, and Booth, 21, in the 89-81 victory. The Poets faced a rematch with Simon Gratz in the final, and like their first meeting, ended in a one possession game. The Poets held a 42-24 halftime lead, before the Panthers shaved that 18 point deficit to 47-40 after three quarters. The Panthers tied it with 1:31 to go and had chances to take the lead, but after they missed the front end of a one-and-one with 44 seconds remaining, Lloyd rebounded the ball, and the Poets milked the clock. With four seconds to play, Booth pulled up from the foul line, but his one-handed attempt was off the mark, however Bright followed up off the glass for the game-winner as the buzzer sounded. Bright led the Poets with 21 points, and played a major part in limiting Wallace to 7 points. December was done and the Poets were 11-0, with six wins over top 25 teams, and another three victories over state powers. There were still two more ‘prime-time’ tournaments to play, but the Poets knew that their fellow city league foes were chomping at the bit for a shot with ‘the champs’. It would be easy to overlook league opponents with the amount of national contenders the Poets had on their slate. The Poets didn’t fall for it, defeating Southern, Walbrook, and Lake Clifton, who finished #2, #3, and #4 in the Sun’s final rankings, a total of four times in the regular season, all by double-digits, and topped 21-win Loyola twice by a total of 107 points. In mid-January, the Poets traveled to Erie to compete in the McDonald’s Classic, with a semifinal matchup with the #4 team in the country, Oak Hill VA. The nationally renowned Warriors ran out to a 12-2 lead, before the Poets took command and outscored Oak Hill 30-12 in the last twelve minutes of the half, and never looked back in the 66-57 win. Bright scored 23 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, dished out five assists, grabbed five steals, and blocked two shots. The Poets faced their namesake in the final, Dunbar OH, a Dayton, Ohio power, and Baltimore’s finest put away the Wolverines, 82-66. Bright recorded 22 points, 8 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and four blocked shots. Lloyd added 16 points and five assists, while Booth provided 15 points and 13 rebounds. A week after the McDonald’s Classic, the Poets were pitted in the heavy-hitting Charm City Classic, featuring four teams ranked among the AP’s top 25, with the Poets facing #8 St. Raymond’s NY, and the newly minted top 25 entree Southern, taking on #2 St. Anthony’s. The Poets beat St. Raymond’s a second time, 93-82, with Bright pouring in 30 points. St. Anthony’s got past Southern, 73-64. The stage was set, the AP’s #1 and #2 teams in the country, tipping off in the Charm City Classic final. The Friars carried a 40 game win streak into the matchup, while the Poets were riding a 38 game win streak. Ironically, both the Poets and Friars last losses were to each other, in December of 1990, with the Friars winning 66-65 in the Skyline Classic, and the Poets finding get-back a week later, with a 60-54 win in the Gonzaga Classic. This was a back-and-forth affair in the first half, as the Poets held a 31-28 edge at intermission. Bright and Friars star Rodrick Rhodes led their respective teams with 11 points apiece. The Poets shot just 42% in the first half to the Friars 52%, but forced the Friars into 11 turnovers, while committing only four. Then, the Poets turned the defense up, limiting the Friars to 31.5% shooting in the second half, and forced another 13 turnovers after intermission. That defensive pressure led to a 48-41 Poets lead, before the Friars stormed back with six straight points to cut their deficit to one, 48-47. Bright was fouled, and hit both foul shots to give the Poets a 50-47 lead with 19 seconds to go. With a chance to tie, the Friars’ Rhodes was run off the three-point line by Bright, and settled for a pull-up jumper with three seconds to play. The Poets smartly let the clock expire, and they walked away with a one point victory, and an uncommon two game streak over St. Anthony’s. The Friars streak ended at 40, while the Poets streak rose to 39. Both Bright and Rhodes finished with 22 points. The only thing in front of a third national championship were the MSA playoffs. The Poets drew #2 Southern (19-4) in the semifinals, who dallied in and out of the nation’s top 25. The Bulldogs came closest to the Poets among all locals, in their 66-56 loss in late January, and three of their four losses were to the Poets, St. Anthony’s, and St. Raymond’s. The Bulldogs chomped early in the semifinals, staking a 18-10 lead after one quarter, before the Poets took over from there, outscoring the ‘Dawgs’ 59-36 over the last 24 minutes. Cyrus Jones led the Poets with 20 points, while Bright added 18. The Poets blew out Walbrook in the MSA A title game, 86-60, and clinched their third national championship in school history. The Poets won 11 games (including Southern) versus teams that were ranked among the top 25 in the nation at some point in the season, won another four versus respective state powers – Vashon MO, Dunbar OH, Iolani HI, Kamehameha HI, and six games versus the #2, #3, and #4 teams in the Sun’s final rankings – #2 Southern, #3 Walbrook, and #4 Lake Clifton. The Poets beat eight-time WPIAA champ Blackhawk PA by 21 points. They crushed 21-win Loyola by 107 points over two games. The Poets beat Southwestern twice, after the Sabres started 7-0. Twenty-four (of 29) quality wins. The Poets averaged 88.7 points per game. Bright was named a McDonald’s and Parade All-American, as well as the Sun’s Player of the Year, after averaging 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Lloyd was also named a McDonald’s All-American, after averaging a team-leading 21.9 points per game, adding 6.3 assists per game. Booth joined the two on the All-Met First Team, finishing his junior campaign averaging 19.5 points and a team-leading 11.8 rebounds per game. Cyrus Jones was the fourth Poet on the All-Met First Team, as the unsung senior averaged 14.3 points per game. Senior guard Paul Banks and 6’7 sophomore Alex Mobley were both key contributors. Coach Pete Pompey was named the Sun’s Coach of the Year. A year after helping lead the Poets to the #2 ranking in the land, Pompey helped lead his charges to the top spot in the country, and ‘Poet Pride’ stood proud again.
Notes; Bright was one of the more highly recruited players in the country, before he chose Massachusetts, coached by John Calipari. The Minutemen finished among the top 10 in each of Bright’s three seasons, including going 35-2 and advancing to the Final Four in his senior season, before losing to Kentucky. The Minutemen won 92 games in Bright’s three seasons. In his senior season, Bright averaged 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Bright scored 1,229 points and recorded 572 rebounds in his three seasons in Amherst; After two years at San Jacinto College TX, where Lloyd averaged more than 30 points a game and was a junior college All-American, he played for Jim Boeheim and Syracuse. In his one season with the Orange, Lloyd averaged 12.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and two steals per game as a point guard, after years of playing the ‘2 guard’ position. Lloyd registered 14 assists in the Orange’s opening round NCAA tournament victory over Southern Illinois; Jones played two years at West Virginia, averaging 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game as a junior, and 12.1 points per game as a senior. In 2019, Jones stepped down after 12 seasons of coaching his alma mater, recording a record of 226-72, and leading the Poets to five state titles; Banks played two seasons at Texas at Arlington, and after coming off the bench for the Poets, led the Mavericks in minutes played in his first season in Arlington; Mobley played two seasons at Maryland- Eastern Shore; College credits for Booth can be found in his senior year’s notes, the ‘93 Poets, #25 on this list.
1 ‘83 Dunbar (31-0) Coach Bob Wade > MSA A Champion, City League Champion, #1 in the Sun, #1 in the USA
Reggie ‘Russ’ Williams 6’7 SR; Parade A/A 1st (Georgetown, NBA)
‘Muggsy’ Bogues 5’3 SR; 2-time All-Met 1st (Wake Forest, NBA)
Tim Dawson 6’7 SR; All-Met 1st (George Washington/Miami)
Mike Brown 6’4 JR; All-Met 2nd (Syracuse/Clemson)
Keith James 6’6 JR; All-Met 2nd (South Carolina/UNLV)
Reggie Lewis 6’7 SR; (Northeastern, NBA)
Derrick Lewis 6’3 JR; (Northeastern)
Herman ‘Tree’ Harried 6’7 JR; (Syracuse)
“We will destroy teams”, lamented point guard ‘Muggsy’ Bogues, on the prospects of the Poets on the eve of the season. A year after finishing #2 in the country, second only to Calvert Hall, the ‘82-83 Poets were determined to be second to no one in ‘83. It had been 10 years since ‘Sugar’ Cain’s Poets shook the scholastic basketball landscape with a 85-71 win over the legendary DeMatha program. After Cain’s former assistant Archie Lewis coached the Poets for two years following his mentor’s retirement, Bob Wade came in to coach his alma mater. After a mediocre first season (12-8), Wade’s Poets had run off six straight 20-win seasons, six straight city public school championships, won five of six MSA A titles, and led the Poets to the overall #1 ranking in the Baltimore area in six straight years, sharing the honor with the Cardinals in ‘82. The Cardinals began the season as the nation’s top ranked team, and finished that way, going 34-0 and winning several national showcases around the country. The Poets began the season at #32 (Basketball Weekly), before skyrocketing to #2, after finishing 28-0. Though the Poets didn’t boast the schedule strength the Cardinals could, they did travel to Camden and clobbered the nation’s pre-season #2 Panthers by 25 points, after building a 33 point first half lead. The Cardinals had beaten the Panthers at the Spectrum in Philadelphia by five points. Many in the area felt it was the Poets who had the #1 team in the country, with the Cards, #2. The ‘82-83 Poets possessed all of the necessities to win a mythical national championship – national recognition, supreme talent, and enough tournaments and showcases that could justify a #1 ranking. The Poets were the most talented team in the country, without question. Senior Reggie Williams was the most highly recruited player in the country, with Georgetown, UCLA, Kentucky, Louisville, and Georgia Tech, making up his ‘final five’. Bogues, the Poets 5’3 wrecking machine, controlled the tempo of basketball games like few others. Bogues had committed to Wake Forest, just before the season started. Tim Dawson was a 6’7 post being recruited by George Washington, Miami, and Florida, among others. Reggie Lewis, the Poets ‘sixth man’, was being recruited by dozens of schools, while juniors Mike Brown, Keith James, Derrick Lewis, and Herman Harried were also being heavily recruited. Though they had no so-called ‘skyscrapers’, they ‘83 Poets had good size, with Dawson in the middle, the 6’7 Williams at one forward, and the 6’5 James at ‘the three’, with the 6’4 Brown at shooting guard. Two more ‘6’7’s in Reggie Lewis and Harried came off the bench, as did 6’3 guard Derrick Lewis. The ‘greatest game that never was’ with Calvert Hall in ‘82 was behind them, as was the ‘81 triple-overtime loss to the Cards, when the Poets squandered a nine point lead with less than ninety seconds to play. The final game in ‘81 very well may have cost the Poets the ‘82 national championship. While that was over and done with, there were two chances the two could meet in the ‘82-83 season – the finals of the Charm City Classic and the inaugural Metro Classic, pitting the city league champions versus the Catholic League champions for the very first time, and the first time the top public school in the city would meet the top private school team in the area in a post-season game since ‘71, when the Catholic schools disbanded from the MSA Conference. The Charm City Classic and Metro Classic were just two of the handful of showcases and/or title games the Poets would partake in ‘82-83. The Charm City Classic would feature an opening round game with #2 DeMatha, with the winner taking on the winner of the Calvert Hall-Carroll DC winner. Any Calvert Hall matchup wouldn’t be the same though, as the Cards graduated three senior starters from the ‘82 team – Marc Wilson, ‘Pop’ Tubman, and Paul Edwards. The Cards still had All-American Duane Farrell, but Cardinal Gibbons was the favorite to win the Catholic League. The Poets would travel to Louisville to participate in the King of the Bluegrass Tournament, playing four games against bonafide teams hailing from across the country. Before the Metro Classic in December, the Poets would get in four games at the Poet-Laker Tip-Off Tournament. Over the holidays, the Poets would travel to compete in the 44th annual Cambria War Memorial Tournament in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, playing one of the best from Cleveland, and one of the best from the Bronx. The Poets would also host national top 10 Flint Hill in a showcase at Morgan State, before finishing with the city league playoffs, the MSA championship, and the Metro Classic. “We will destroy teams”, ‘Muggsy’ Bogues said. The Poets began with Southern in the first round of the Poet-Laker Tip-Off, and annihilated the Bulldogs, 105-42. The Poets held a 58-17 halftime lead, and Williams finished the night with 33 points in three quarters. The following night, the Poets walloped Southwestern by nearly the same score, 106-42, with Williams scoring 28 points and grabbing 9 rebounds, and Bogues providing 14 points, 13 assists, and four steals. After getting past Walbrook in the semifinals, the Poets crushed Lake Clifton, 82-47, in the final. The Poets ran out to a 22-6 lead after one quarter, and a 42-17 halftime lead. Williams led the way again with 33 points, while Dawson added 19 points and 13 rebounds. Up next was the Beltway Classic at Towson, and the DeMatha Stags. Representatives from over forty college programs were in attendance, including the brain trusts from North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, Louisville, Georgetown, and Maryland, among others. The Poets were ranked #1 by Basketball Weekly, the Stags, #2. The game was tight, 25-24, midway through the second quarter, when the Poets went on a 11-2 run to close the half and take a 36-26 lead into intermission. Williams scored six points in that spurt. The Poets started the second half with a 10-4 run, that built the lead to 46-30, with Bogues providing four points, an assist and a steal, and Brown scoring four points. The lead grew to 67-48, with just over two minutes to go, before the Poets settled on a 67-55 victory. The Poets shot 57% from the floor. Bogues proved to be a nuisance for the Stags, and recorded 14 assists and five steals to go with his 10 points. James provided 16 points and five assists, while Williams added 14 points, and Brown added 13. DeMatha’s legendary coach Morgan Wootten said after the game, “Dunbar is as fine a high school team as I’ve ever seen. I didn’t say they were the best, after all, we played Power Memorial when they had Lee Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). We played Gastonia when they had James Worthy. But the thing Dunbar has that those other teams don’t is Bogues. He adds a (different) dimension.” Carroll snapped Calvert Hall’s 38 game streak, 83-77, eliminating one of two possible dates between the Poets and Cards. In the final, Poets used a 12-2 run to open the second half on the Lions, to push a 36-28 lead to an almost insurmountable 48-30 margin halfway through the third quarter. Williams scored 25 points in the 73-53 victory, and Bogues was named the MVP of the tournament. The Poets were then off to the King of the Bluegrass Tournament in Louisville, where they’d beat one of Indianapolis’ best, Warren Central, 93-57, in the opening round, after staking a 50-19 halftime lead. Williams scored 24 of his 29 points in that first half. Next, the Poets knocked off Florida’s defending AAA champion, Ocala, 85-57, with Williams tallying 30 points. Then it was one of Louisville’s own in the semifinals, Fairley, who came out on the short end of a 80-45 loss. Again, Williams played a large part in putting away the Bulldogs early, scoring 17 of his 27 points in the first half. Bogues, for his part, provided 15 assists, and Brown added 19 points. In the finals, the Poets would put away the ‘Bluegrass State’s’ own Carlisle County, 65-48, at Louisville’s Freedom Hall. The Poets pushed the lead into double-digits in the second quarter and never looked back. Williams, who scored 21 points, and Dawson, who scored 17, were joined on the all-tournament first team by Brown. The Comets would go on to lose Kentucky’s ‘Sweet 16’ championship, to Henry Clay, 35-33. For the holidays, Dunbar traveled to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to compete in the Cambria War Memorial Tournament, played in the War Memorial Arena. The Poets cruised past one of Cleveland’s best, Bay Village, 55-41, before facing their toughest test of the season in the finals, versus Martin Luther King High of the Bronx. The Poets survived four players fouling out, including Williams, who picked up three fouls in the first three minutes. Lewis, the Poets ‘6th man’ was named MVP of the tournament, and was joined on the all-tournament first team by Williams. King would be the only team to come within single digits of the Poets in the ‘82-83 season. The Poets traveling show saw just one home game in their first 14 contests. The Poets went on to shred league opponents, beating the top three opponents in their division – Walbrook, Poly, and Northern, a total of six times by an average of 40.7 points per game. The Poets topped Walbrook by an average of 35 points in their two league matchups, Poly by an average of 39 points in their pair of games, and Northern by an average of 48 points in their two meetings. The Poets had also crushed the top two teams in the other MSA A division, Lake Clifton and Southwestern, by 35 and 64 points, respectively. “We will destroy teams”, Bogues said. Before the City playoffs, MSA championship, and Metro Classic, the Poets invited coach Stu Vetter’s top 10 team Flint Hill in for a visit. The Poets and 23-1 Huskies played before more than 3,000 spectators at Morgan State, giving fans one last glimpse of one of the greatest high school teams ever, if not the greatest ever, take on a national power. The Poets raced out to a 12-2 lead, an eventual 44-23 halftime lead, before routing the Huskies, 87-59. Williams scored 28 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, Bogues dished out 12 assists, Dawson scored 17 points, Brown, 16, and James, 14. After the game, Vetter echoed Coach Wootten’s comments from two months earlier, “They’re the best team I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been coaching for 16 years. And I’ve seen the great DeMatha teams, and the great teams Dunbar of Washington had. They’re the best.” The Poets crushed Southern, 98-44, in the city league quarterfinals, before pasting Poly, 80-33, in the semifinals. The Poets took their seventh straight city title with a 70-50 win over Walbrook, as the Poets led 61-27, before Wade went deep on his bench. Williams, Bogues, and Dawson, were selected to the all-tournament first team, while Brown, James, and Lewis, were selected to the second team. The Poets topped Lake Clifton for their sixth MSA A title in seven years, as Williams scored 12 of his 22 points in the decisive third quarter. One game stood between the Poets and their first national championship, but to be honest, Cardinal Gibbons, the 23-win Catholic League champion, didn’t stand a chance. After all, the Poets weren’t just winning, they were, as Bogues predicted, destroying teams. The Metro Classic championship would be no different. Before more than 6,000 fans at the Civic Center, the Poets used a 14-2 run in the third quarter to take a 20 point lead, before running away in a 82-53 rout. Williams scored 10 points in that third quarter run, and poured in 37 points on the night. The Poets were national champions. Dominant national champions. Only one team came within single digits of the Poets. The Poets won 25 of their 31 games by 20 points or more. On the season, the Poets averaged 88.3 points per game, allowing 47.2, for a +41.1 point differential. The Poets beat teams from seven states, and the District of Columbia. The Towson Catholic girls team also finished #1 for a ‘Charm(ish) City’ sweep. Williams was named Mr USA Basketball, and selected to the Parade All-American and McDonald’s All-American teams. The top recruit in the country chose Georgetown. Williams averaged 25.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, and four assists per game, while shooting 57% from the field. Williams may have been the top player in the country, but Bogues was selected as the team’s MVP. Bogues was selected to the All-Met First Team for a second year in a row, averaging 8.1 points, 9.9 assists, and 7.6 steals per game. Dawson joined his two teammates on the All-Met First Team, averaging 11.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. The juniors, Brown (13 ppg) and James (10 ppg), were selected to the All-Met Second Team. Lewis, the ‘6th man’, was the MVP of the Johnstown Tournament, and was a huge part of the Poets success. Derrick Lewis and Darryl Wood added firepower to the backcourt, and Harried provided rebounding and rim protection inside, off the bench. Wade was selected as the Coach of the Year. Over seven seasons, from ‘77 through ‘83, Wade led the Poets to a 174-10 record, boasting undefeated records in ‘79, ‘82, and ‘83. The Poets finished the season with a 59 game win streak. Ten years after ‘Sugar’ Cain’s Poets had introduced themselves to the high school basketball world with the win over DeMatha, Coach Wade’s Poets took the program to the mountaintop, dominating in a fashion never seen before.
Notes; Williams was the most successful college player to ever come out of the Baltimore City League, playing four seasons, starting in three, for one of the top five programs in the country at the time. Williams’ Hoyas won 122 games in his four years, won three Big East titles, played in three ‘Elite 8’s’, played in two national title games, and won a national championship. Williams scored 2,117 points, grabbed 886 rebounds, dished out 327 assists, and put his hands on 206 steals. Williams’ ranks third on the Hoyas all-time scoring list, behind Eric ‘Sleepy’ Floyd and Patrick Ewing, and sixth on both the all-time rebounding and steals list. As a freshman, Williams scored a team-high 18 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out three assists in the national championship win over Houston. As a sophomore, Williams scored a team-high 20 points in the Hoyas national semifinal win over St. John’s. As a junior, Williams averaged 17.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, shooting 52.8% from the field. Williams’ was named a consensus First Team All-American in his senior season, as well as Big East Player of the Year, after averaging 23.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Williams scored 34 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in a ‘Sweet 16’ win over Danny Manning and Kansas. Williams was drafted fourth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1986 NBA Draft, and played ten seasons in the league. In ‘92, Williams led the Nuggets in scoring, registering 18.2 points per game, adding 5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. The following season, Williams averaged 17 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Williams averaged double figures in scoring in seven of his ten seasons, and averaged 12.5 points per game over his career; Bogues played four years at Wake Forest, leading the ACC in assists in his final two seasons. As a junior, Bogues averaged 11.3 points, 8.4 assists, 3.1 steals, and 3.1 rebounds per game. Bogues was named to the All-ACC First Team as a senior, after averaging 14.8 points, 9.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game. Bogues was drafted twelfth overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1987 NBA Draft, and played 10 seasons in the league. In five of six seasons from ‘90 through ‘95, Bogues finished among the top four in the league in assists. In ‘90, Bogues averaged 10.7 assists per game, and in ‘94, averaged a ‘double-double’, at 10.8 points and 10.1 assists per game. Bogues currently ranks 23rd all-time on the NBA assists list, with 6,726. Bogues also scored 6,858 points, and snatched 1,369 steals over his NBA career. Bogues ranks as the Hornets all-time assists and steals leader; Lewis played four seasons at Northeastern, his first three under Jim Calhoun. The Huskies won 102 games in Lewis’ four years in Boston. Lewis led the Huskies in scoring in each of his last three seasons. As a freshman, Lewis averaged 17.8 points and 6.2 rebounds for the ECAC North champs, who finished 27-5, shooting 52.8% from the floor. In the Huskies 70-69 loss to VCU in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Lewis hit 15 of his 17 shots, and finished with 31 points and five rebounds. In his sophomore campaign, Lewis averaged 24.1 points, a team-high 7.8 rebounds, and two steals per game. His junior season, Lewis averaged a league-high 23.8 points per game, a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game, and a league-high 2.8 steals per game for the 26-5 Huskies. Lewis scored 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Huskies 80-74 loss to Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Lewis was named as the ECAC North Player of the Year for a third time in his senior season, averaging 23.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. Lewis scored 2,708 points over his four years with the Huskies, and ranks as the program’s all-time leading scorer. Lewis’ 964 rebounds ranks third on the Huskies all-time list, as does his 226 steals. Lewis was drafted 22nd overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1987 NBA Draft, giving the Poets three first round picks in one NBA draft. Lewis played six seasons for the Celtics before his tragic death caused by a heart defect in the off-season, less than three months after collapsing on the floor in a game versus the Hornets and his former teammate ‘Muggsy’ Bogues. Lewis scored 17 points in just 13 minutes in what would be his final NBA game. During his first four years with the Celtics, Lewis played in the shadows of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, but quietly averaged 18.5, 17.0, and 18.7 points per game, following his rookie season. In his fifth season with the Celtics, Lewis averaged 20.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Lewis’ talents were on full display in the Eastern Conference semifinals versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Bird sidelined by an injury, Lewis averaged 28.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.4 steals per game in the seven game series. In the Celtics 110-107 Game 3 victory, Lewis poured in a game-high 36 points, then followed that up with 42 points, 6 assists, and five steals in the Celtics 114-112 Game 4 loss. In the six seasons he played, Lewis was just one of six NBA players to record 7,500 points, 1,500 rebounds, 1,000 assists, and 500 steals, over that span, joining Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, and Chris Mullin – five Hall of Fame inductees; Dawson played one season at George Washington, before transferring to Miami. In his freshman season with the Colonials, Dawson averaged 7.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocked shots per game, shooting 56.2% from the field. Dawson’s best season in Miami was in his junior season, when he averaged 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game; College credits for Brown, James, Derrick Lewis, and Harried, can be found in their senior year’s notes, the ‘84 Poets, #11 on this list.
HS Sports Analyst
Willie, a native of Chicago, and now a resident of Columbia for 40 years, is an educator at Homewood Center in Howard County, after spending 12 years as a real estate agent, following 10 years of running a small men’s retail company. Willie has contributed to Max Preps, Digital Sports, and Varsity Sports Network. Willie has produced MPSSAA top 25 rankings for both football and basketball for 15 years, across various platforms. From a large ‘sports family’, Willie’s brother Mike led Reservoir High to the 3A basketball state title game in 2018, while his nephew Anthony serves as the Indianapolis Colts College Scouting Coordinator.