The Division II Regional Final was one of the most hyped games in recent memory, as the two most talented schools in the state met up for the right to advance to the Final Four. Unfortunately for our local squad the game did not turn out the way that they had hoped that it would….
|The Wolverines starters- Gary Akbar, Damarion Geter,|
AJ Harris, Andre Yates, and Deontae Hawkins
Dayton Dunbar 81 Taft 59: With all of the state’s experts split on who they thought would win one thing that everyone did agree on was that it would be a competitive game. We were all wrong. Dunbar remained undefeated and improved to 26-0 in a thoroughly dominating win over Taft. The Wolverines of Dunbar turned Taft over time and time again, leading to fast-break scores and making a rowdy Dayton crowd even more wild early in the contest. Dunbar used their pressure defense in the full-court mixed with a half court 2-3 zone to frustrate the Senators early as they jumped out to a 25-12 just one minute into the second quarter. Dunbar was able to break Taft’s signature press and create easy layups, forcing Taft coach Mark Mitchell to reluctantly make some changes. By the end of the half Taft trailed 43-32. In a game marred by 56 total fouls some Taft supporters thought that with all the foul trouble that Dunbar had suffered that the Senators still had a fighters chance to win. However, Dunbar opened the second half with two quick buckets and it seemed that the route was on. Over the next few minutes the Senators played their only winning basketball of the afternoon as they dug deep and were able to move the ball better as they cut their deficit to just four at 45-41 with 2:54 left in the quarter. That was the last run that Taft would have in them as Dunbar senior reserve Tayvonne Hunt hit a huge three pointer with just seconds left in the third to give Dunbar a 43-32 lead headed into the final period. Less then two minutes into the fourth quarter Dunbar senior forward Gary Akbar, the team’s emotional leader, took it strong to the cup and finished the basket, plus the foul, to extend the Dunbar lead to 58-43 and it was basically a route from then on. The lead eventually swelled to over twenty points as senior guard Andre Yates made coast to coast drives for layups and then found Deontae “Teddy” Hawkins who hammered home two dunks while Dunbar’s margin reached a game high twenty eight at the 1:55 mark when they led 77-49. From there seniors from both teams exited to ovations from their fans in an emotional farewell to a group of eight Taft seniors that have meant so much to Cincinnati basketball. In their final game together Adolphus Washington led Taft with 18 points to culminate one of the all-time great high school careers that the city has ever seen. Orlando Berry and Ra’Saan Jackson scored 7 for Taft, Fred Cannaday chipped in 5, Jalean Lowe and Jermaine Freeman tallied 4 points, and Dwayne Stanford added 2 in the loss. Dayton Dunbar, who is now the overwhelming favorite to win next week’s Division II State Championship was led by the 15 points of freshman point guard AJ Harris who played mature beyond his years in the biggest stage of his career. Hunt finished with 12 points for Dunbar while energetic junior forward Damarion Geter had one of his better games with 11 points. The big three seniors for Dunbar performed at their usual level as Gary Akbar and Teddy Hawkins each scored 12 points while Andre Yates finished with 11.