Flyin’ to the Hoop: Dunbar falls to No. 9 Akron Buchtel

KETTERING – Tony Dixon challenged his Dunbar team this season with a difficult nonleague schedule to prepare for the Division II tournament.

Last week the Wolverines knocked off fifth-ranked Cincinnati Woodward. On Sunday it was ninth-ranked Akron Buchtel. The Wolverines weren’t at their best but had a chance late before losing 70-66 at the Premier Health Flyin’ To The Hoop at Trent Arena.

“That was a good team, but we didn’t play our best,” Dunbar senior point guard Darian Leslie said. “But we’re going to bounce back.”

The Wolverines (8-5) almost bounced back in the fourth quarter Sunday. Buchtel (8-4) led from the beginning and appeared ready to run out the clock until Nykiah Gay scored inside with 10 seconds left to cut Buchtel’s lead to five.

Dunbar pressed, freshman B.J. Hatcher made a steal and Antaune Allen made his fifth 3-pointer to cut Buchtel’s lead to 68-66 with three seconds left. But Buchtel star Khoi Thurmon made two free throws and that was it.

“We’re playing the tough schedule we are right now to prepare ourselves for the playoffs,” Leslie said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Dunbar made 11 of 17 3-point attempts, led by Allen’s 5-of-8 performance, but the Wolverines made only 11 of 40 two-point shots and 11 of 17 at the foul line, a place they had been hot from in recent games.

Buchtel was also hot from 3-point range and shot 62.8% overall and made 10-of-13 free throws. The hot shooter was Christian Harmon, who made 10 of 11 shots and 5 of 6 3-point shots for 25 points. Thurmon was able to find Harmon for threes and others for open shots when he would drive and draw help defenders.

“We didn’t stick to the game plan,” Dixon said. “We knew that 21 [Thurmon] likes to get downhill, and we let him create lanes for easy shots for them. They were 6 for 10 from three and that was off his playmaking ability. So we didn’t make him uncomfortable like we were supposed to.”

Dunbar has experience with Leslie and Antaune and Antone Allen, but they are also being bolstered by freshman Hatcher. He scored 14 points and had four assists.

“The game is starting to slow down for B.J.,” Dixon said. “He’s a heck of a scorer and he’s a high IQ freshman. I was very happy with his play today, and I wasn’t surprised.”

Antaune Allen scored 18, Leslie 16 and Gay 11. The Wolverines committed only seven turnovers in the fast-paced game.

“We’re definitely on the right track,” Dixon said. “Of course we want to get wins, but we loaded up our schedule like this just to prepare us for the state tournament.”

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