In a battle between two guard-oriented teams looking for a playoff berth No. 4 Lake Clifton pulled away from No. 8 Cardinal Gibbons in the fourth quarter and posted a 77-63 victory to win second place in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division II.
The Lakers (14-4, 8-2) advance to Tuesday's conference semifinals at Morgan State, where they will take on top-ranked Dunbar at 6 or 8 p.m. Southern and Mount St. Joseph meet at Morgan in the other semifinal.
The winners will meet for the championship in the Metro Classic on March 3 at the Baltimore Arena at 7 p.m.
Senior point guard Curtis Shepherd led the Lakers with 17 points, 13 assists and three steals. Senior guard Ronnie Van Hook added 16 points. The Lakers also got strong inside play from junior center Harold Smith, who had 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, and sophomore center Cornell Ward, who had (( 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
Senior guard Casey Musick paced Gibbons (21-10, 7-3) with 27 points (16 in the first half), and junior forward Eugene Marshall and junior guard Quintin Moody each added 12.
Shepherd (eight) and Van Hook (seven) combined for 15 points in the fourth quarter, as Lake Clifton outscored Gibbons, 25-15, to blow open a close game.
The Lakers led, 58-53, with 3 minutes, 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter before running off 10 straight (six by Van Hook) to take control, 68-53, with nearly two minutes left.
In an MSA B Conference game yesterday, Mervo (11-4, 8-2clinched a tie for first place in Division II by defeating visiting Patterson, 81-65, as George Raikes had 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Forest Park (7-2 league) can tie Mervo for first by beating visiting Northern today (3:30). There also is a big game in Division I today when Carver (8-1 league) and Edmondson (7-2) meet in their regular-season finale at Carver (3:30).