Boys basketball: Dunbar ‘coming together closer’ after death of teammate

Daveontae Williams still on minds of players, coaches as Wolverines open Division II tournament

KETTERING — Life changed for the Dunbar boys basketball team on Feb. 6 when their 16-year-old teammate and brother died. Somehow, they decided to play a basketball game the next night.

They couldn’t let Daveontae Williams down. And they can’t let themselves forget him, especially when they are about to take the court without him. So they created a new chant.

“We all we got, we all we need. Dae Dae on me. Dae Dae on three 1-2-3 ... Dae Dae.”

And the second-seeded Wolverines came through for Dae Dae Friday night in their second game since his death. Dae Dae’s brothers easily defeated No. 21 Franklin 77-32 in the first round of the Division II tournament at Trent Arena.

B.J. Hatcher, Williams’ sophomore classmate and best friend, scored 31 points on five 3-pointers and fast-break layups. He was one of the happy voices barely muffled by the locker room door after the game.

“It worked out perfectly because I had 31 for him,” Hatcher said. “Every time I have a good game, it’s for him. It was fun.”

The first few days without Dae Dae were the most difficult.

“It was bad, but you just have to dedicate the season for him,” Hatcher said.

Head coach Tony Dixon said, “I’m not gonna lie. This is one of the toughest things I’ve ever dealt with.”

Over a week later, Dixon is proud of how his team is handling their loss.

“My team is very, very strong,” he said. “It’s been a tough week and a half, but they have shown a lot of mental toughness. Mentally they showed me a different side of them. We’re coming together closer after the situation.”

Dixon and his team are grateful for the support they’ve been given from grief counselors at school to cards and notes from other area teams. And there are symbolic signs of Dae Dae’s memory. The players have a small patch on their warmups of his No. 10 and the coaches have one on their hoodies. Other hoodies with “Daveontae Forever” and artwork on the back are popular around the school.

Dae Dae played in 15 of Dunbar’s 21 varsity games this season and averaged 4.4 points. His teammates will continue to dedicate their season to him. The next task is Oakwood in a second-round game at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Trent.

Their hoped-for tournament run started well even though Franklin (3-20) scored the first seven points. Dunbar (17-6) scored the next 14 and led 46-16 at halftime. The lead hit 35 early in the second half, and the running clock commenced.

Antaune Allen added 16 points for Dunbar and Emmanuel Marshall scored 10. Franklin sophomore Kai Cook scored his team’s first 21 points and finished with 25.

Oakwood 59, Northridge 39: Not every league champion gets an easy tournament opener. The final score says differently, but on Feb. 4 No. 8 seed Oakwood beat No. 12 Northridge by three points at home.

Northridge (14-9) had other choices but chose to go after the Lumberjacks (19-4). Did that serve as extra motivation for Paul Stone’s team?

“Yes, 100% yes,” Stone said. “I showed them that they had other places to go. They chose us.”

Stone said he didn’t blame the Polar Bears for picking his team. The Lumberjacks committed 18 turnovers in the first meeting and looked vulnerable. However, it was senior night and the night after an emotional win over Bellbrook for the SWBL East title.

The second meeting belonged to Oakwood from the start. They made six 3-pointers in the first quarter to surge to a 20-9 lead, kept building and maintaining the lead and finished with 12 3-pointers. Aidan Jacomet made four 3-pointers and scored 14 points. Leading scorer Will Maxwell added 13 points and passed to open shooters, and Luke Tucker scored 10.

Northridge had all of Stone’s attention this week.

“My coaches asked me about Dunbar, and I said guys, ‘I’m being honest. I have watched zero Dunbar film because our focus is on Northridge,’” Stone said. “They’re stronger than we are, they’re quicker than we are and the moment you sit there and you start thinking ahead, you’re done playing.”

Stone had choices too at the tournament draw. He chose his spot so he could play at nearby Trent Arena for a third time this season.

“I had a choice to play Dunbar, Ponitz, Meadowdale, Alter,” he said. “There wasn’t any place to go hide. That’s Division II in Dayton.”

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