At 13-3, Lake Clifton and Moore looking out for No. 1 Lakers coach enjoys the spoils of top ranking

February 11, 1993|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

The desk is scattered with papers. In one corner of the room, basketballs sit in a large net bag. Practice jerseys are stacked in the opposite corner.

Hidden in a corner of a short and narrow hallway on the lower level of Lake Clifton's gymnasium is the office of basketball coach Charlie Moore. It's somewhat small. But what the Lakers have accomplished this season hasn't been.

In his sixth season, Moore has guided the Lakers to the area's No. 1 ranking, and they are heading toward a high seeding in the state Class 4A playoffs in March.

"He really hasn't gotten the recognition that he has deserved," said junior center Terrance Payne. "We are finally coming through for him and it's a pleasure playing for him."

Outside of losses to Archbishop Molloy of New York in the Charm City/Big Apple Challenge in December and the nation's No. 1 and No. 4 teams as declared by USA Today, Simon Gratz (Pa.) and St. Anthony (N.J.), respectively, in the Charm City Classic in January, Lake Clifton has been dominating, winning by an average of 31.6 points.

The Lakers' 73-65 victory over rival and previous No. 1 Dunbar on Jan. 22, which ended the Poets' 36-game winning streak against area opponents, has been the highlight of their season.

It also removed the stigma of an eight-game losing streak to the Poets dating to the 1988-89 season. For now, the bragging rights East Baltimore belong to Lake Clifton. The teams will meet again in the regular-season finale Feb. 19 at Morgan State.

The Lakers' victory didn't go unnoticed. The day after the win, Moore went to his bank and he was given a round of applause by the tellers. A woman walked up to him and gave him a hug. The accolades continued the following week from the Lake Clifton student body and faculty.

"Being No. 1 is good," said Moore, "but you become the hunted instead of the hunter."

After a 122-43 victory over Mervo on Friday, the Lakers improved their record to 13-3, matching their 1991-92 victory output. But the win was a little strange for Moore because it came against one of his mentors, Woody Williams.

Moore was the JV coach at Lake Clifton for six seasons under Williams, who coached the varsity from 1971 to 1986. Williams returned to coaching this season, and Friday was their first meeting.

Along with former UMES coach John Bates and James Smith, a coach at Madison Square recreation center, Williams helped Moore mold his coaching style.

Moore coached the varsity at Carver from 1978 through 1980, compiling a 24-18 record, before moving to Lake Clifton, where he is 78-30.

Pictures of former Lake Clifton players Ron Lucas (Kansas State), Ben Harlee (Northeastern), Joe Carey (Northeastern) and Alphonso Barney (Northeastern) line the back of Moore's desk. Like a proud father, Moore is pleased with how the players he has coached have matured into adults.

"It makes you feel good to see those kids playing well and doing well academically," he said. "It makes you feel proud knowing that they are doing well, and hopefully, others will be following."

Now the pressure is on to continue to excel. If the Lakers win the states, it will be their first major title since 1987-88, when they defeated Southern, 83-72, for the Baltimore City Public Schools title and Gibbons, 75-72, in the Metro Classic.

Their road to Cole Field House most likely will include matchups with perennial Prince George's County power High Point and No. 5 Woodlawn in the regionals.

Moore feels that this is his best squad. Anything less than the Class 4A state championship will be a disappointment.

"This team is competitive, deep, quick and it wants to win," said Moore. "If these ingredients continue to come together, there's no telling what we can do."

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