Ricardo Leonard scored the first eight points of the third period and fourth-ranked Spingarn pulled away from sixth-ranked Dunbar to record a 72-59 triumph in the Interhigh League opener for both teams last night at Spingarn.
The Green Wave (4-0) had control of the contest early, jumping out to a 9-0 lead on the strength of seven quick points by Weldon Parham. But Dunbar took advantage of some mistakes by the hosts and rallied to tie the game at 28-28.
Dunbar, a much smaller team, got a bundle of easy inside shots, including four by Carey Thomas, as Spingarn played poor defense at times in the first two periods.
"We didn't do a good job of boxing out and keeping Dunbar off the base line," said the 6-foot-7 Leonard, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. "We gave up some easy baskets."
Lorenzo Thompson's three-pointer pulled Dunbar (1-2) even at 28 with 2:09 left in the first half.
Leonard had two free throws and Ricky Smith made a driving layup as the Green Wave led, 32-28, at intermission.
Spingarn Coach Kenny Howell wasn't happy with his team's first-half play either.
"We did get sloppy in the first half," Howell said. "We were not boxing out and they were getting inside. At the half, we adjusted our defense and went to a halfcourt game. They didn't get as many easy shots or rebounds."
Ricardo's third-period scoring put the Tide in a hole they never escaped. The Tide scored only two baskets on their first 11 possessions of the period. In addition, Dunbar's 6-foot-6 sophomore center Donald Ford (12 points) picked up his third foul and went to the bench.
While Ford watched his teammates miss shots and make turnovers, Spingarn got a steal and layup from Ricky Smith and three straight inside baskets from Eric Abraham (11 points, six rebounds) to take its largest lead, 48-34, with three minutes remaining in the period.
"I told the guards at the half I was open inside and they started getting me the ball," Leonard said. "Once we got ahead again, we were able to control the game. We had some rough edges, but this was the first league game and a big win for us."
After getting the big lead, Spingarn relaxed just enough to allow Dunbar to get close. Darren Buchanan (18 points) made consecutive three-point plays after grabbing offensive rebounds and Ronald Jackson scored off a drive as the Tide cut the deficit to 48-42, with about a minute to play in the period.
But Dunbar could not sustain its intensity nor get critical baskets. Leonard, Michael Smith, Abraham and Ricky Smith sank baskets in the opening four minutes of the last quarter and Spingarn led, 60-48.
Dunbar got as close as eight points, but point guard Parham (15 points, six assists), who made four free throws down the stetch, and his teammates did a good job of playing keepaway in the final minutes to assure Spingarn of the win.
"We wanted to get this one out of the way to see where we stand," Leonard said of the first league victory.