Lake Clifton High’s boys basketball team held a ring ceremony for its 2021-22 Class 1A state championship season before its matchup with Dunbar Friday afternoon.
The No. 5 Lakers complimented the pregame festivity with arguably their most impressive performance of the season in a 68-34 rout of the 13th-ranked Poets in a Baltimore City Division B match in East Baltimore. Senior guard/forward Quentin Monroe posted a game-high 27 points for Lake Clifton (15-3 overall), and Jazae Jones added 18.
The defending city and 1A state champs established a 14-point advantage after the opening quarter, maintaining a share of first in Division B (6-0) with fourth-ranked and undefeated City (5-0).
The top finishers in Division A (Edmondson currently first) and Division B will play for the city title, Feb. 21 or 22.
In a week that started with the passing of legendary basketball coach Woody Williams, Lake Clifton closed with a decisive lashing of its longtime East Baltimore rival.
“I was concerned whether they were mature enough to play after being given state championship rings, it got them going,” said Lakers coach Herman Harried. “We came out the way we wanted, especially defensively.”
“We were executing early,” said Monroe, who along with forward Kris Mitchell were the only current players to receive rings Friday.
The Lakers never trailed Friday after an 11-0 run, capped with Monroe’s basket following a block and assist from Ray Askins, that put the hosts up 11-3. They led 25-11 after the opening eight minutes.
The lead hit 20, 36-16, after a 3-pointer from Monroe. Lake Clifton had full command at halftime, 38-19.
“We got stops and we made it hard for them to do the things they normally do,” said Harried.
Lake Clifton didn’t let up, extending the lead to 54-27 late in the third on Askins’ mid-range jumper. Mitchell capped the effort, hitting a 3-pointer from about 35-feet with time expiring on the shot clock in the waning moments.
" We came out with intensity from the beginning,” said Jones. “The ring ceremony motivated us…we did everything Coach told us. We won with defense.”
Tony Hart and junior Gary Suite each finished with 10 points for Dunbar (14-4), which produced a season-low in points Friday. The Poets didn’t score in the fourth quarter until 42 seconds left.
“We weren’t ready for the big stage. They (Lake Clifton) did what they wanted to do,” said Dunbar coach Dana Johnson. “They pushed around us and we didn’t respond.”
The loss dropped the Poets (4-1 Division B) a game behind Lake Clifton and City in Division B. Dunbar hosts City Tuesday afternoon.
Lake Clifton has won 24 of its last 25 games in city league play. The Lakers have won the last three regular season meetings with Dunbar, whose last victory came in 2018.
The Dunbar/Lake Clifton rivalry dates back to the early 1970s when the latter first opened its doors. From the mid-1970s into the mid-1980s, Lake Clifton, guided by Williams and Dunbar, led by Bob Wade, battled for the city and Maryland Scholastic Association A (MSA A) championships.
Despite Friday’s rare lopsided result, Harried, who played in those epic matches in the 1980s for Dunbar, said the game still resonates.
“The history has changed over the years for a number of reasons, but it was packed. We wanted a lot of Lake and Dunbar alums to come out,” said Harried. “Tonight definitely worked out.”
NO. 5 LAKE CLIFTON 68, NO. 13 DUNBAR 34
Dunbar - Hart 10, Suite 10, Toney 8 Taylor 6. Totals 14 2-4 34.
Lake Clifton - Monroe 27, Jones 18, Mitchell 10, Askins 6, Dorsey 4, Nelson 3. Totals 27 7-12 68.
Lake Clifton 25 13 16 14 - 68
Dunbar 11 8 12 3 - 34