For a few minutes Saturday afternoon, Paul Laurence Dunbar gave Alabama’s reigning state basketball champions all they wanted at the Marshall County Hoop Fest.
Late in the first quarter, things changed in a hurry.
Alabama signee John Petty had 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to lead Mae Jemison (Ala.) to a 67-54 victory, handing the Kentucky state champs their first loss since Feb. 13.
Dunbar led 16-11 before Petty helped engineer an 18-2 run that lasted most of the second quarter.
“In the first half, they pretty much threw it where they wanted to throw it and got it where they wanted to get it,” said Dunbar Coach Scott Chalk. “And they’re big, they’re long. They’re going to get what they want if they do that.”
Petty — an athletic, 6-foot-5 guard and the first player from the 2017 class to earn a scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky — manned the middle of Jemison’s offense, and 6-7 center DeVonte’ Lanier discombobulated Dunbar’s defense inside.
The Bulldogs’ tallest starter is listed at 6-4, and Dunbar’s usually overwhelming speed didn’t stand out against a Jemison squad that was just as quick. Petty had both the size and speed to give the Bulldogs fits.
“He did a good job of making quick moves to get open and quick moves to post. That’s hard to guard,” Chalk said. “When a guy’s that size and he plays quick and really aggressively to get open, he’s tough to handle.”
Taveion Hollingsworth led Dunbar (2-1) with 18 points and five rebounds. The Western Kentucky signee scored in a variety of ways in the first half but was held to just one field goal after halftime. Hollingsworth scored a total of 67 points in the Bulldogs’ first two games of the season.
Dunbar was selected by state coaches as the No. 3 team in Kentucky during the preseason, but Hollingsworth is the only major contributor left from the state title squad. The Bulldogs lost double-digit scorers Jordan Lewis and Darius Williams to graduation, and top rebounder Dontell Brown suffered a torn ACL during football season.
Chalk said this team is still finding their way and learning their roles.
“We’re going to be OK,” he said. “We’ve got Taveion — Mr. Basketball — so we’re probably going to be in the hunt. I’m not worried about that. It’s just a matter of making progress with a lot of guys that are young and haven’t played as many minutes.”
Paul Laurence Dunbar’s next three games
- Tuesday vs. Lafayette
- Friday vs. Lexington Catholic
- Dec. 13 vs. Lexington Christian
(All games at Dunbar)