Allen leads Dunbar to upset of state’s fifth-ranked team

Dunbar's Antaune Allen is fouled by Cincinnati Woodward's Keleise Frye during the first half of Saturday night's game. Allen helped lead Dunbar to a 70-64 victory with 23 points, including making 15 of 18 free throws. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
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Dunbar's Antaune Allen is fouled by Cincinnati Woodward's Keleise Frye during the first half of Saturday night's game. Allen helped lead Dunbar to a 70-64 victory with 23 points, including making 15 of 18 free throws. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Antaune Allen knows the pressure of his Dunbar team needing him to make free throws in the fourth quarter. In previous games, he made 7-of-7 and 10-of-10 in similar situations.

Saturday night at home against Cincinnati Woodward, the state’s fifth-ranked Division II team in this week’s Associated Press poll, the need to make free throws seemed more important. The Wolverines were coming off a frustrating one-point loss to Ponitz the night before and clinging to a narrow lead.

The plan was to put the ball in Allen’s hands as much as possible as Woodward fouled five times in the final 35 seconds. Allen made 6 of 9 free throws in that span to help Dunbar hold on for a 70-64 victory.

“I work on my free throws all the time, so it’s really nothing to me,” Allen said.

That’s why Allen, who makes almost 80% of his free throws, didn’t lose confidence when he missed 3-of-4 in a span of three seconds. It was a tense time. A Woodward player fouled out with 35 seconds left and head coach Jarelle Redden got a technical foul for not substituting a player soon enough. He was arguing that the scorebook was wrong, but he lost the argument.

Allen was the obvious choice to shoot the technical, but he missed both shots before making one from the foul that led to the technical. He was fouled three seconds later and missed the first one. But he made the second and then four more in a row to shut off Woodward’s comeback.

“We were very, very confident in him,” Dunbar coach Tony Dixon said. “We knew all he had to do was just get out of his head and just make the free throw.”

Allen made 15 of 18 free throws and scored a team-high 23 points. Darian Leslie added 19 points and Antone Allen 12, including a 3-pointer to put Dunbar up 63-60 with 1:03 left, setting the stage for his twin’s finishing touches at the foul line.

Both teams attacked the basket at every opportunity and the fouls piled up. Dunbar made 25 of 33 at the line and Woodward made 18 of 27.

Dunbar (8-4) is in a race with Ponitz and Meadowdale for the Dayton Public Schools title. But this game against Woodward (8-2), one of the top teams in the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference, was a midseason measuring stick to see where the Wolverines stand in the Southwest District.

“To come back and beat a top 10 team in the state that’s a big deal,” Dixon said referencing the loss to Ponitz. “That’s team building.”

The biggest part of the challenge was guarding Woodward guard Paul McMillan IV. He averages 29 points a game, has multiple Division I offers, including Cincinnati and Xavier, and NBA 3-point range.

“Make him uncomfortable,” Dixon said. “What I like to tell my guys is don’t go look at the name. We can play too. So you got to make him work and make him uncomfortable just like they tried to do to us.”

McMillan had nine points at halftime and finished with 31, but Dunbar made him earn every point on contested layups, deep threes and free throws.

“He got some stuff, but we really were containing his shots to where he took less shots and not more,” Allen said.

In the first half, Leslie did most of the guarding on McMillan while scoring 12 points to help Dunbar to a 32-29 lead. In the second half, Dixon tried a 3-2 zone and stuck with it to the end. McMillan found a way to get his points with 22 in the half, but the rest of the team scored only 13.

“We felt like if we make them shoot the ball and take away the driving lanes that will help us out because they are an aggressive team and they like to get downhill,” Dixon said.

Leslie came off the bench for the first time. Dixon said he just felt the need to try something different. But Leslie scored, defended well and was able to handle Woodward’s three-quarter court pressure and double-teams.

“Darian Leslie showed who he really was,” Dixon said. “That was the key. He makes us go. He was confident today that he thought he could be the best guard on the floor, in my opinion.”

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