Return of Tiger hoop star Keagan Dunbar causes stir in Pepin

MIDDLEBURY — The 500 fans in Middlebury College’s Pepin Gymnasium before Saturday’s women’s basketball game did not give their loudest cheers to any of the host Panthers during player introductions.
The most noise came when the announcer called the name of the freshman wearing No. 21 for Colby: Keagan Dunbar.
A year ago Dunbar wore Middlebury Union High School black or white uniforms trimmed with Tiger orange and was putting the finishing touches on a four-year varsity hoop career that saw her put up 1,625 points and lead the state in scoring as a sophomore.
Dunbar also won two state championships as a lacrosse defender and was a popular teammate. On Saturday she was mobbed by family members, friends and fans after her Colby team upset the Panthers.
Dunbar insisted she had no idea what was coming when she trotted onto the floor before the game and posed for selfies and exchanged hugs afterward.
“Oh, my gosh, it was amazing. It’s such an amazing community,” she said. “Honestly, I wasn’t expecting any of this. It was really cool.”
For her, the game itself was mixed. Dunbar, a starter who is the teams’ second-leading scorer, hit her first three shots to help Colby take an early lead it would never surrender. But she also picked up two quick fouls and took an early seat.
When her team’s substitutes began raining three-pointers on the Panthers, the Colby coach stuck with the hot hands, and Dunbar ended up playing just 12 minutes. She finished with eight points, two rebounds, two assists and two turnovers.
She said the early foul woes were “a little bit” frustrating, but Dunbar was just happy her Mules team improved to 9-12 overall and earned its second league win.
“We needed it. We’ve been really streaky. We’ve been playing well, and then not so well,” Dunbar said. “We’re starting to play together, and I think coming out here today was a real confidence booster.”
Dunbar said she is enjoying Colby athletically, socially and academically.
“I was really nervous coming in, because it was one of the schools I hadn’t visited the most. But my coaching staff, my teammates, they’re all amazing. I love the school,” she said. “It’s been great. My teammates are some of my best friends. And academically I was nervous, a NESCAC school coming from Middlebury high school, and there’s always, ‘You just got in because you’re an athlete,’ but it’s been totally fine. I’m doing well.”
Dunbar was one of a number of remarkable female athletes in the MUHS class of 2018, a group that won two Nordic skiing titles (a feat matched by the Tiger boys’ seniors) as well as the two lacrosse titles.
A short list would also include Andi Boe, Helen Anderson, Satchel McLaughlin, Caroline Kimble and Isabel Rosenberg (a member of four championship teams), many of whom were four-year varsity Tiger athletes and some of whom are continuing or planning to continue playing sports in college. 
“It was amazing, and having all those girls on the lacrosse team was amazing,” Dunbar said. “And a lot of us were so close. It’s great to have their support, and support them.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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