The name inspires respect. The Dayton school has won five state championships, including last year, and has produced Division I college and NBA players.
“When you talk about Dunbar, you’re talking about one of the best Division II programs in the state,” Shawnee coach Chris McGuire said. “So it sounds like a pretty tough task when you here you’re going to play Dunbar.”
But when Shawnee meets the Wolverines at 9 p.m. Friday at UD Arena in a Division II district final, McGuire doesn’t want his team to play against a legacy.
“You definitely can’t go by just the name, and I think the guys realize that,” McGuire said. “Some of the guys have seen them play a couple times this year, so with that I think we’ve got confidence that we can win this game.”
Dunbar (19-6) is ranked No. 10 in the state and is led by sophomore point guard A.J. Harris, who already has an offer to play at Dayton. Last year the Wolverines finished 28-0, but that team had three seniors with Division I college talent. Shawnee (23-2) has set a school record for victories, is in its third district final since 2004 and is looking for its first regional berth since the 1980s.
“We think we match up fairly well with them,” McGuire said. “They pose a lot of problems to us, but we think we pose some problems to them.”
Still, Dunbar will bring more quickness and athleticism to the court than the Braves saw in the Central Buckeye Conference and the sectional tournament.
“It’s hard to simulate the quickness that they’ve got,” McGuire said. “From an athletic standpoint we’re outmatched, but there’s a lot more to the game than just athleticism. So we’re focusing on the little details, the small things that we have to do to be successful.”
Led by senior star Jaelin Williams and sophomore guards Jaden Greenwood and Andrew Tincher, who is nursing a knee injury, the Braves have the ability to stretch a defense with their 3-point shooting. Taking good shots against Dunbar’s pressure defense will be crucial for the Braves.
The Braves have also been solid on defense in the tournament, and McGuire said that trend needs to continue to keep the Wolverines out of the lane and from too many easy baskets.