Archbishop Carroll High School, the overlooked team in the Beltway Classic, moved into the spotlight tonight as it ended Calvert Hall's 38-game winning streak with an 83-76 victory at Towson Center.
Carroll, the last team to defeat the school considered the best in the country last season, did it again before 4,725 surprised fans in the first game of a doubleheader. Calvert Hall's last defeat came against the Lions, 73-63, in the semifinals of the Alhambra Tournament in March 1981.
In the second game tonight, De Matha, the other Washington-area entry, couldn't keep up with Dunbar of Baltimore and was beaten, 67-55.
Carroll (4-0) plays Dunbar (5-0) for the title Sunday at 5 p.m. De Matha (2-1) and Calvert Hall (3-1) play for third place at 3.
Carroll's victory prevented an expected meeting of Dunbar and Calvert Hall. Last year, the Cardinals finished 34-0 and Dunbar 29-0; they were Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in most of the nation's final rankings. The two teams, along with De Matha, were among the top five in many of the preseason rankings this year.
Dunbar Coach Bob Wade said playing Calvert Hall would have been an ideal opponent last year but meant little to him or his players now.
"I'm not disappointed we won't play Calvert Hall," said Wade, whose team has won 32 straight. "Both teams are different and it's not the same. We beat a good team tonight and we're looking forward to playing Carroll."
If Carroll is able to run the fast break and rebound with Dunbar the way it did tonight, the Poets will be challenged. Led by the sometimes brilliant, sometimes baffling play of point guard Mike Sampson, Carroll regrouped from a four-point first period deficit to lead, 42-38, at the half.
Sampson (19 points, 10 assists), Fred Cunningham (26 points, 12 rebounds) and Derrick Lewis (14 points, five blocks) were the team leaders. After the Cardinals' 6-foot-6 forward Duane Farrell scored on a followup shot to tie the game at 52, Carroll took over.
Farrell finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds.
"We felt them getting tired and kept the fast break going," said Sampson. "Running is our game and we can go eight or nine deep."
In the other game, Dunbar wasn't overly impressive, particularly in the first half. De Matha did a good job getting open shots and rebounding with the quicker Poets and led, 16-15, after the first period.
The tempo soon changed and De Matha was in trouble. Williams, the 6-7 all-America averaging 31 points this year, scored only 14 but had eight of them in the second period to help the Poets move ahead, 36-26.
Tyrone Bogues, a 5-3 point guard, ran the Stags ragged. Bogues stole balls, made key passes (14 assists) and scored 10 points. He and Keith James guided the Poets' offense as the team took a 52-40 lead in the third period.
Bogues and James led another 10-2 run and Dunbar was comfortably ahead, 62-46, lead with three minutes left.
"If I knew we would hold Williams to 14 points and Dunbar under 70, I would have thought we could win," said De Matha Coach Morgan Wootten. "But James hasn't missed lately and Bogues, well, you can't press him. He just adds another dimension."