For three quarters, Dunbar's game plan against Coolidge worked pretty well. But Coolidge has the one player very few folks can stop, Donald Hodge.
A 6-foot-10 center, he had 19 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocked shots in leading the fifth-ranked Colts to a 76-51 Interhigh League victory over the defending city champions last night at Coolidge.
The Colts are 11-2 overall and 6-0 in the league. More importantly, the victory established their supremacy in the league. They beat contenders Spingarn and Anacostia easily.
"He is the difference," Dunbar Coach Mike McLeese said, referring to Hodge. "He is the best big man we'll see in the Interhigh. Anything that came inside he either blocked it or intimidated our shooters. Hodge is clearly the difference."
Both teams began slowly, taking bad shots and committing turnovers in the uptempo game. Dunbar (7-4 and 3-3), getting 20 points from Ronald Jackson, stayed close before Hodge and his teammates began controlling the backboards.
Coolidge trailed, 19-17, before Colts guard Charles Hatcher tied the game at 19. The Colts later ran off eight points -- Hodge had four -- to lead by 29-21 at the half.
The Colts weren't smooth but made a high percentage of their shots in the third period to take an 11-point lead.
"We got ahead on our rebounding and team defense," Colts Coach Len Farello said. "I don't know what is wrong with our half-court offense. We had no movement, nothing. I don't like that."
Dunbar, ranked 14th, crept back within 47-41, getting a jumper from Carey Thomas and two free throws and a layup from Jackson with about a minute left in the third quarter.
Hodge took control in the last eight minutes. He opened the period with a block. He then assisted on a basket by Derrick Price (12 points) that provided a 53-43 lead. After Clent McCoy's three-point play, Hodge got three consecutive rebounds. Two were converted into three-point field goals by Anthony Riley and the hosts trailed, 62-47, with 5:22 to play.
Dunbar couldn't get its top scorer, 6-6 sophomore Donald Ford (nine points), into the offense and had to rely on long-range shooting. Hodge or Price rebounded any misses.
Hodge began a 7-0 run and Coolidge led by 22 with less then four minutes to play.
"We got the shots we wanted early but they wouldn't fall," said McLeese, whose team was outscored by 27-10 in the last period. "In the final period, they just wore us down."
Despite Farello's displeasure with his offense, the Colts had five players in double figures. Riley had 14 points, and Hatcher and McCoy 11.
"We did do some things well," Farello said. "Our rebounding was good and we handled their press very well. But our patience is not there."