Bryan Station's boys' basketball team, which has been bobbing up and down this season trying to keep its head above water, came up for air Tuesday night.
It was no surprise Bryan Station caught its breath at Paul Laurence Dunbar.
The Defenders beat the Bulldogs 54-43 to nudge their record to 10-9. It was also Bryan Station's 17th win in a row over Dunbar since 2004.
"That's an amazing streak," Bryan Station Coach Champ Ligon said. "It's a credit to all the kids who've come through our program. It shows that the city games really mean something to them."
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Ligon admitted "we've been lucky, too," noting that a few years ago Dunbar led the Defenders by 19 points going into the fourth quarter before they rallied to win behind Shelvin Mack & Co.
Bryan Station needed a bit of luck Tuesday to overcome an awful second quarter. The visitors missed their first nine shots, didn't score for more than four minutes and managed only five points.
"I didn't know if we'd ever score," Ligon said. "But we've been known to do that. We're a streaky team."
Despite its troubles, Bryan Station trailed by just three, 24-21, at halftime. The Defenders played much better in the second half. They got the ball inside more, which helped them hit 15 of 20 shots (75 percent).
They also picked up their defensive intensity and limited Dunbar to four points in the third quarter.
Bryan Station took control thanks to a 13-0 run that turned a 28-28 tie into a 41-28 lead.
Dunbar didn't get closer than nine the rest of the way.
James Evans, a 6-foot-6 junior, led the winners' balanced attack with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Jawan Demus and Deon Renfro provided a spark off the bench. On a night when just about everybody had trouble finding the basket, they combined to make nine of 10 shots.
Demus, a senior, finished with 11 points, and Renfro, a junior, had 10.
Demus, who didn't play much until this year, said Ligon reminded the team before the game that Bryan Station has owned this rivalry.
"He told us we've gotta keep the streak alive," said Demus, whose brother Kearney played for the Defenders a few years ago and helped dominate Dunbar.
Joe Fain added 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists for Bryan Station.
Dunbar, which has lost 10 games in a row to its four city rivals, shot 30.5 percent, was outrebounded 42-26 and saw its record drop to 2-16.
Junior guard Clay Coyle led the Bulldogs with 12 points and four assists.
Bryce With and William Gary had nine points each, and Lamont Johnson added eight points and eight rebounds
BRYAN STATION (10-9) — Evans 6-11 0-1 12, Baffour 0-3 0-0 0, Smothers 3-6 0-0 6, Barner 0-4 3-6 3, Fain 3-9 3-4 10, Demus 4-4 2-2 11, Renfro 5-6 0-0 10, Adams 0-0 2-2 2, Webb 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-44 10-15 54.
PAUL DUNBAR (2-16) — Coyle 5-9 1-1 12, Johnson 4-10 0-0 8, With 4-9 1-1 9, Jones 1-8 0-0 3, Gary 3-13 3-5 9, Lamanna 0-2 0-0 0, Adu-Peasah 0-3 0-0 0, McNair 0-2 0-0 0, Page 0-2 0-0 0, Herrin 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 18-59 5-9 43.
Bryan Station 16 5 14 19—54
Paul Dunbar 15 9 4 15—43