Fort Worth Dunbar clinched its first trip to the playoffs in three seasons Saturday with a 59-45 victory over District 6-4A foe Fort Worth Eastern Hills at Billingsley Field House.
The Wildcats (17-8), who made 35 straight postseason appearances before missing out the last two years, have won six in a row and are alone atop the 6-4A standings with a 12-1 record.
"It's about time. I really don't have a reaction to clinching a spot in the playoffs," Dunbar coach Robert Hughes Jr. said. "The pressure is on me now because we are supposed to make it to the playoffs this year. I got guys that can play, and when you got guys that can play, you are supposed to have them ready."
One of those guys Saturday was senior guard Da'Lante Brooks, who finished with a game-high 20 points, including 12 straight points early in the fourth quarter as Dunbar opened up a 21-point lead, its biggest of the day. Brooks had missed the previous two games because of the flu and came off the bench.
"I just had to finally wake up, go to the hole and then get my jumper going," said Brooks, who converted two layups before knocking down a pair of 3-pointers during the fourth-quarter run.
Backcourt mate Dennis Jones did a little bit of everything to help the Wildcats as the junior finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, eight steals and six assists.
Daron Jackson and Jamour Lane led Eastern Hills (6-16, 5-8) with 15 points apiece.
On hand -- as he is at many Dunbar games -- was legendary Wildcats coach Robert Hughes Sr., with customary notepad and pencil, jotting down notes throughout the contest. The retired Hall of Famer coached for 45 years in Fort Worth, first at I.M. Terrell and then at Dunbar. In all he won 1,333 games -- a national record for boys coaches -- and five state titles before retiring in 2005 and handing the reins over to his son.
"I'm still scared of that man. We talk after every game and talk about everything," Hughes Jr. said of his father. "I pick his brain on what he's thinking, and that's a plus that I've got."
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760
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