Lakers fall to country's No. 1

January 16, 1993|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

For 3 1/2 quarters, Lake Clifton had Simon Gratz of Philadelphia -- the nation's No. 1 team according to USA Today -- within its sights.

As the Lakers played even, basket for basket, excitement and anticipation of a possible upset came over the estimated crowd of more than 3,100.

But as quickly as that excitement came, Simon Gratz quieted it, taking control and defeating Lake Clifton, The Baltimore Sun's No. 2 team, 60-46, in the second game of the Charm City Classic last night at the Towson Center.

Senior guard Kevin Norris led the Lakers (8-2) with 17 points. Shawnta Rogers added 11. Junior guard Shawn Smith led Simon Gratz (18-0) with 15 points, and Jamahl Redmond had 13.

"We played hard," said Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore. "We ran into some foul problems, and that hurt us in the blocks. We got good ball movements and good shots, but it wasn't enough."

With 4:36 remaining in the third quarter, the Lakers had pulled even with Simon Gratz at 34 on a three-pointer by Reggie Frazier, but Gratz closed the quarter with a 10-0 run.

Rasheed Wallace, Gratz's 6-foot-11 center, hit a jumper. After a basket by Rondell Turner (eight points, seven rebounds), he broke under the basket for a dunk and a 40-34 advantage.

Wallace finished with 10 points and eight rebounds but was still a factor, coming out to the circle, alternating the Lakers' three-point shooting duo of Norris and Rogers.

Also, Wallace, considered to be the nation's top player, helped break the Lakers' half-court press by coming up and taking the inbound pass and getting the ball upcourt.

Simon Gratz extended the lead to 50-35, but the Lakers came back, pulling to 50-41 with 4:25 left in regulation. Simon Gratz got baskets from Smith and Lynard Stewart -- the brother of Washington Bullets forward Larry Stewart -- to push the lead back to 13.

"We had some foul troubles, and it affected us," said Rogers. "He [Wallace] was a factor with helping break down the press but not on the offensive side."

Ellerbee was impressed with the Lakers, saying that Gratz was the quickest team they have faced.

The Lakers came out in a half-court offensive set, respecting the defense of Simon Gratz, which has allowed an average of 35.8 points.

Lake Clifton led 16-15 after the opening period. It took its largest lead of the first half at 18-15 on a basket by Frazier, but Gratz regained the lead and extended it to 28-25 at halftime.

Simon Gratz pushed the lead to 32-28 before the Lakers came back, getting consecutive three-pointers from Norris and Frazier to pull even at 34.

"Overall, the kids really gave a great effort," said Moore. "We played good offense and good defense in spots, but they did what they had to do to win."

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