Dunbar point guard Romeo Roach watched with special interest as the NBA's Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues dribbled through the opposition during a summer game on Roach's D.C. Interhigh home court.

"I had never seen him before. He was so small and quick and just took over the game," said Roach, who has helped the Crimson Tide capture back-to-back city titles and win 82 of its last 90 games.

"I went up to him after the game and I was amazed I was actually taller than him. I wanted to say something but I couldn't. He would have thought I was just another little fan."

The 5-foot-4 Roach said he left that day with immense respect for the 5-3 Charlotte Hornet. Roach also left with renewed confidence in his own ability to excel despite his size.

"I knew a long time ago I wasn't going to be 6-10. I wanted to be taller because I realized each level would get harder," said Roach, averaging 10 points, 6 assists and 4 steals this season for the area's No. 3 club. "I was determined to work even harder. I'm used to being short and I try to use my size to my advantage. I know I don't think short."

Bogues, Roach and 5-4 ballhandling wizards Roland Martin of Central and Eric Minus of Blair have surprised their share of taller opponents.

Minus is the sixth man for unbeaten Blair (19-0) and, playing less than a half, ranks fourth on his team in assists and steals and averages five points per game.

Blair Coach Dave Scaggs says Minus is more adept at shooting guard, a fine outside marksman, but "we prefer him to play the point because he is so quick and when he's in the game we can move a couple of other players inside. We don't miss a beat with Eric out there."

Central doesn't worry about its floor leader either.

"No one intimidates me," said Martin, who led the Falcons to the Maryland Class 2A state title last year and has his 11-7 (9-5 in Prince George's 2A) team in contention again. "I approach a game with the attitude no one can stop me. You have to have confidence in yourself because everyone tries to take advantage of you.

"I don't worry about my size on defense, I just play my man as tough as I can. I'm very comfortable with my height and my teammates have no problems with it."

Like Roach, Martin makes sure his teammates get the ball in the right spots.

Central Coach Walter Fulton says Martin has been the team leader since he started playing last year.

"He is a great passer and we don't worry about the press because you can't take the ball from him," Fulton said. "He can hit the three-point shot, he penetrates well and plays very good defense."

Martin, averaging 16 points, 10 assists and 5 steals, set a state title game record with 12 assists. Fulton said Martin would have started in both his freshman and sophomore seasons but didn't play because of grades.

"He has done much better academically and hopefully can go to college," Fulton said. "He could be a very big asset in college. Last year he was a bit out of sync, often trying to do too much. This year he has the green light but is playing under much more control."

Unlike Martin, Roach has always been surrounded by superior talent and has not had to carry the load. But he is a good shooter who is trying to repeat as the team leader in three-point field goals.

"Everyone used to ask me why I had that short guy out there," Dunbar Coach Mike McLeese said. "I heard all the negatives about short players but I saw him in practice every day and knew what he could do.

"Romeo has the perfect point guard mentality and has developed into a fine player. Sometimes he doesn't get the direct assist, but he makes the play that leads to someone else getting credit for the assist. Romeo handles the ball 90 percent of the time and doesn't lose it.

"{Georgetown Coach} John Thompson told me God cheated Shorty. Unfortunately he's small, but he can sure play."

One of 14 children, Roach learned early how to share.

"I'm like a quarterback with lots of wide receivers," said Roach, who has signed with Delaware State. "You have to keep them happy and my job is to give them good passes. If they get good passes, we'll win games. And as long as we win, I'm happy."