Dunbar 47, Riverdale Baptist 44
Dunbar's Earl Risby performs a unique ritual after every practice: The senior point guard takes 10 shots from around half-court before calling it a day.
"I'll never know when I'll need to make one," he said. "So it's always the last thing I work on before I leave."
Risby's practice paid off in a big way for the ninth-ranked Crimson Tide last night, as he banked in a game-winning three-pointer from just inside mid-court as time expired, lifting Dunbar to a 47-44 nonleague victory over No. 10 Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro.
"Earl's the best half-court shooter on the team," Dunbar senior All-Met guard Tre Kelley said. "He makes them all the time."
Risby's 27-footer capped a furious comeback as the Crimson Tide (14-3) trailed 44-42 with 8.9 seconds remaining following a free throw by Riverdale Baptist senior guard Jared Blake. With Dunbar out of timeouts, Risby dribbled upcourt and was fouled, which sent him to the free throw line for a one and one with 5.2 seconds left.
Risby made both free throws, and as Riverdale Baptist (14-5) pushed the ball upcourt in an attempt to set up a potential game-winning shot, Risby stole the ball. After taking two dribbles, Risby had no other option but to take matters into his own hands.
Risby's shot ricocheted off the backboard and through the hoop as the buzzer sounded, causing the Dunbar bench to mob him near mid-court.
"As soon as I let it go, I knew from my release that it had a good chance of going in," said Risby, who finished with 12 points. "I knew that because I shoot enough shots like that from around half-court every day."
Kelley scored a team-high 17 points -- 13 in the opening quarter -- but it was his three-pointer with 3 minutes 25 seconds remaining in the final quarter that sparked a 7-0 run that enabled Dunbar to tie the score at 42.
Riverdale Baptist was led by senior forward Orlando Wright and senior center Sheray Thomas, who scored 17 and 10 points, respectively.
Though both teams entered the night scoring an average close to 70 points, the game was low scoring because both Riverdale Coach Lou Wilson and Dunbar Coach Lorenzo Roach refused to adjust their respective team's defensive strategies.