The loss of its top two players would have been enough reason for the Dunbar girls' basketball team to struggle through the last two weeks. But the No. 11 Crimson Tide's remaining players have stepped up.
Dunbar (13-3, 3-1 D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association West) has won six straight games despite the limited play of injured guards Laquanda Brandon and Nyaimah Ware. The streaking Crimson Tide has an important stretch this week with consecutive games against Theodore Roosevelt and Coolidge.
"I think what was key for us is that we have a good group of kids, and all but four of our 12 kids have been playing three years for us," Coach Johnnie Walker said. "These kids have lost only three games to D.C. public schools since they got here, so they are part of a winning tradition. What they've been able to do now is keep finding a way to win."
Juniors Brandon and Ware, who average a combined 34 points per game, both have been sidelined by ankle injuries. Ware has missed the last four games, and Brandon has missed four games throughout the last five weeks while having limited playing time in most of the others.
Meantime, 5-foot-11 junior Ebony Evans has made the most of her opportunity, taking over as a slashing guard to lead the Crimson Tide. On Friday, in a 71-29 win over Spingarn, Evans had her first career triple-double with 27 points, 15 rebounds and 10 steals.
"I always knew she had the potential to do this," Walker said. "But when you have the luxury of playing with Laquanda and Nyaimah, you're going to play different roles on the team."
Today's meeting with No. 2 Roosevelt and Friday's game against Coolidge could be pivotal for Dunbar's postseason fortunes. If the Crimson Tide drops to third or fourth place in the division, it will likely have to play a road game at either Anacostia or Ballou in the DCIAA playoffs.
-- Sean P. Flynn