Coaches Mike McLeese of Dunbar and Paul Fuqua of Mackin knew their teams would have hard times early this season because of inexperience, and that was borne out in yesterday's helter-skelter affair at Dunbar.

After countless turnovers, missed shots and mental errors, Ronald Jackson's free throw with 10 seconds left and a missed layup by Mackin's Curt Smith allowed Dunbar to escape with a 74-73 victory in a nonleague game.

Even though it wasn't pretty, McLeese was pleased to get his first win.

"There were a lot of mistakes by both teams, but people have to understand those were two very young teams out there," said McLeese, whose team opened its season last week by losing by 19 points to New York's FES Academy. "And it's going to be that way until we get some games under our belt. I looked out there once and we had four sophomores and a junior on the floor."

Occasional fine play by the Crimson Tide alloowed them to take a 56-42 lead during the third quarter.

But those little errors, such as not being able to get the ball in bounds, allowed Mackin to get two quick baskets by Curt Smith (23 points) and Michael Smith (21 points) and cut Dunbar's lead to 10 points going into the final period.

Carey Thomas (13 points) had eight points and Donald Ford (18) and Darren Buchanan had four each as the Tide still controlled the game, 73-66, with just under a minute to play.

But Mackin, which opened its season with a 28-point loss to Flint Hill, climbed back into the contest after baskets by sophomore Michael Smith and junior point guard Curt Smith.

Dunbar had its chances to clinch the game and Mackin certainly had opportunities to catch up.

In between misses at the free throw line by Dunbar (28 of 44, including seven first shots in one-and-one situations), Julio Colon made two free throws, Curt Smith made one and Anthony Luther threw in a three-pointer as Mackin trailed, 73-72, with 16 seconds left.

Jackson was quickly fouled and made one of two shots from the line to make it 74-72 with 10 seconds left.

Michael Smith made one of two free throws to cut the deficit to a point with six seconds left. Mackin fouled Jackson again, but this time the senior missed and Mackin rushed up court looking for the game-winning basket.

Curt Smith found a lane, dashed toward his goal and got off his shot. The ball hugged the rim before falling off and Dunbar and McLeese had win No. 1.

"The shot was there; it went in and out," Fuqua said. "We were right there, but those young mistakes hurt us. We'll be exciting, that's for sure."