Boys basketball: Resurgent Dunbar set to face defending state champion Trotwood-Madison

Dunbar defends against Waynesville in a first-round tournament game vs. Waynesville at Trent Arena in Kettering. Eric Frantz/CONTRIBUTED

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Dunbar defends against Waynesville in a first-round tournament game vs. Waynesville at Trent Arena in Kettering. Eric Frantz/CONTRIBUTED

Wolverines have won pair of tournament games after disappointing regular season

There are a few select boys high school programs in Ohio whose names resonate at a different decibel. St. Ignatius football, Graham wrestling, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary basketball and St. Xavier swimming are a few.

Dunbar basketball is another.

The Wolverines own five state titles, seven state finals appearances and nine final four appearances since 1971. Only three schools in Ohio history have more basketball state championships than Dunbar (SVSM, Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph and Middletown).

»RELATED: Wednesday’s high school roundup

“I talk about it all the time,” Wolverines head coach Lyle Cole said. “When you put that blue on and that crest on, it means so much, and these guys are learning what that means. When you put the name ‘Dunbar’ on, it’s more than what some people think.”

Over the past 26 months, Dunbar’s been bruised.

A fight at the end of a January junior varsity basketball game in 2018 led to a Wolverines ban from the 2019 postseason and ongoing Ohio High School Athletic Association probation, which runs through June 2020 for all Dayton Public Schools and through 2022 for Dunbar.

In August 2019, during the second quarter of a football game with Roger Bacon, a Dunbar player head-butted a referee. An ongoing court case exists.

Wednesday, 15-year-old Dunbar freshman Qua’Lek Shelton was laid to rest after dying from wounds suffered in a drive-by shooting Feb. 16. Shelton was an exceptional track athlete and AAU national champion in multiple age-group events.

“The kids have been going through crisis counseling, been going through peer counseling…just trying to get through the situations, which have been one after the next,” Lyle said. “We have to continue to move in the right direction. We have to keep pushing forward and make good things happen. It is a tough time at Dunbar right now. Our kids are really under pressure. People are expecting for us to do something off the wall and people are expecting us to do something dumb. We’ve got good kids.”

Dunbar’s basketball team has helped supply some relief.

Despite finishing the regular season with an uncharacteristic six wins, the Wolverines have beaten Waynesville (68-65 in overtime) and Eaton (69-50) to reach Friday's Division II district semifinal against defending state champion Trotwood-Madison (21-2). Tip is 6 p.m. at Trent Arena.

“We’ve gotten here under a lot of adverse circumstances,” Cole said. “This is different. We don’t have the Norris Coles and the Aaron Pogues and the Daequan Cooks. We have players right now who have shown that they want to be here and give their all. That’s all we can ask for.”

Trotwood won at Dunbar 108-87 on Jan. 11. The Wolverines held a 28-22 lead after the first quarter before being outscored 56-26 in the second and third.

“Our kids still have what we call a little bit of ‘Blue,’” Cole said. “They’re not fully ‘Blue’ yet, but they are earning their stripes. It’s about protecting the crest and that’s what we’re doing. We’re trying to protect it on the court and off.”

Gauntlet: Of the eight teams left in the girls Division I Princeton District, six – Mount Notre Dame (No. 1), Fairmont (No. 2), Wayne (No. 3), Mercy McAuley (No. 5), and Springboro (No. 6) – are ranked in the top eight of the MaxPreps Ohio computer rankings (regardless of division). The other two teams – Lakota West and Walnut Hills – come in at Nos. 10 and 11, respectively.

Honors: The Southwestern Buckeye League recently named its all-league teams. Oakwood senior Darren Rubin was the Southwestern Division boys player of the year, while Franklin's Brian Bales was coach of the year. Madison swept the Buckeye Division awards with senior Grant Whisman and Jeff Smith earning player and coach of the year honors, respectively. Valley View's Aubrey Stupp (senior) and Steve Dickson swept the Southwestern Division girls player and coach awards, while Carlisle's Tony Phillips was the Buckeye Division coach of the year and Madison senior Kenzie Saunders was the top player.

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