A fine display of athleticism by evenly matched Interhigh boys basketball rivals ended with No. 5 Dunbar going on a game-ending run to win, 71-56, over No. 13 Coolidge last night before 1,500 at Coolidge.

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Dunbar-Coolidge games over the years, and sometimes it's been justified.

Last night, a frenzied crowd saw a close game throughout until Dunbar turned a 52-51 advantage with less than five minutes remaining into a 63-53 cushion with 1:26 left. Shewn Winfree (12 points) capped the surge by scoring off a rebound.

"It was," said Dunbar Coach Mike McLeese, "a typical Dunbar-Coolidge game."

"Both teams played hard, but we {he and his players} have had an extraordinary last two weeks with the death of my father {whose funeral was yesterday}, and I think they played flat at the beginning. They're hurting for me, but they did what they had to do. They hit the boards and maintained our composure and I think that was the key."

Coolidge (13-5, 0-1 in the West Division), with a cast of agile players led by 6-foot-7 John Stuckey (20 points), appeared to have an excellent chance of becoming only the second Interhigh team in the past two years to beat Dunbar (15-3, 2-0). But the Colts had trouble from the free throw line, converting 11 of 30.

Their five-of-20 foul shooting in the first half kept them off stride, as the Crimson Tide led by 29-27 at intermission.

"We work hard on free throws, every day, all practice long," said Coolidge Coach Jerrell Robinson. "Then, after we run drills, we shoot free throws five or six times in practice. I just think it was concentration. We just couldn't put the ball in the hole."

The Crimson Tide, whose three losses were at the hands of Dunbar of Baltimore, have matured greatly over the past few weeks, and in pressure situations McLeese has been able to particularly rely on several players.

University of Maryland-bound Johnny Rhodes (16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) has been the catalyst, with 6-6 James "Scoop" Marshall (10 points, eight rebounds) and 5-4 point guard Romeo Roach (11 points, 5 assists, 3 steals) also playing pivotal roles for Dunbar.

"Winning is everything to us," said Rhodes. "We've put the Dunbar losses behind us and are trying to play hard and beat everybody. We had to pick our game up tonight and start over from scratch in the fourth quarter."

Three-point goals: Dunbar 1 (Roach); Coolidge 3 (Pratt 2, Bradshaw).