Dunbar (19-7) came in to the first semi-final 4A game against a Cardinal Newman team who had only one loss on the year (26-1).
Newman took an early lead that included being able to to get to the rim and some key three-pointers, but Dunbar hung tough and fought back to take a 26-25 halftime lead. The Tigers were led by a solid guard-forward combo in seniors Christopher Sutherland and Keanu Pennison.
The Fort Myers-based squad did not shoot a free throw the entire game despite being a primarily paint scoring team that looked to drive early and often in the first half. Their attack style allowed them to stay close until the second half.
Cardinal Newman clearly made halftime adjustments as they packed the paint preventing Dunbar from being able to score in the lane. That opened up the game for the West Palm Beach-based Newman as they took a ten point lead late in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
The Crusaders’ showcased talented guards in K.J. Fitzgerald and Abdul Dial. Dial, a senior, plays more of a forward type of game. He showed great hands catching and finish around the rim in the first half. His activity really set a tone for Cardinal Newman’s interior. Fitzgerald, a sophomore getting high-major interest, took care of the basketball and orchestrated the offense.
But the story of the game center around senior forward-center, John Collins, who is commited to play at Wake Forest next season. Collins led the way with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks. His active hands were an huge assett in grabbing boards on both ends of the floor.
Dunbar, who shot less than 37 percent from the field in the first half, couldn’t reproduce the same paint success that they had in the previous half. They were led by Sutherlan with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Keanu Penniston with 18.
Dunbar had just eight assists on 22 field goal makes while shooting just 44 percent from the field for the game and 37 percent from beyond the arc.
As the final minutes counted down, Cardinal Newman’s fan section began chanting “We want Godby!” They’ll get their wish as Godby went on to defeat Holy Trinity in the second 4A semi-final game.
The two teams will face off tomorrow at 1:05 p.m.