L. Clifton comeback falls short

January 29, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

It was a game of wildly fluctuating momentum, with first one team, then the other, establishing complete control.

Depending on whether the leader or the trailer was in charge at the time, a comfortable triumph or a dramatic rally to victory seemed in store for the winner.

But, in the end, the outcome was decided by a controversial call by an official that allowed freshman Shike Lee to make three clinching free throws with eight seconds left, lifting St. John's Prospect Hall to a 62-58 decision over Lake Clifton last night in the Charm City Classic at Reitz Arena.

The loss was a crusher for the Lakers, who battled back from a 41-24 third-quarter deficit to take a 58-57 lead on Bernard Williams' layup with 15 seconds left.

Lee, the first cousin of former Viking Dennis Scott, had missed the front ends of two one-and-ones earlier in the quarter as Lake Clifton tore away at its deficit with big steals and three-point shots.

But after the Lakers went ahead for the first time since the first period, Lee calmly made three straight to put St. John's Prospect Hall ahead, 60-58.

Ronald Byrd had been charged with fouling Lee during a three-point shot attempt, a call Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore called "terrible, not fair to the kids.

"I don't think he was in the act of shooting. When you're up one with eight seconds left, you don't make a call like that. Let the kids and coaches decide who's going to win or lose."

The Lakers had another chance, but Nate James stole the inbounds pass and then Reggie Evans hit two free throws with two seconds left for the final margin.

St. John's Prospect Hall coach Stu Vetter naturally disagreed with Moore's version.

"It was a legitimate call," said Vetter. "The foul could have been called and it was. They were fouling very aggressively later in the game."

Lake Clifton (8-4) was in command early, springing to a 12-4 edge before the Vikings' Lithuanian center, 6-9 Andrius Jurkunas, began finding his range.

It turned out to be from beyond the arc, and Jurkunas (20 points, seven rebounds) scored 12 points in the second period while the Lakers' offense went cold. Lake Clifton had only one second-period field goal -- a three-pointer by Shawnta Rogers-- and shot 7.1 percent in the period.

"They were doing a good job in their motion offense," said Moore.

After building the lead to 17, the Vikings caught some bad breaks when Jurkunas went out of the game for good with a possible sprained ankle and Lee also was forced to the bench for four minutes by an injury.

Lake Clifton came storming back by forcing flurries of turnovers and converting transition baskets off the defense.

But St. John's Prospect Hall withstood the first surge after the Lakers got to within 43-42. Still ahead, 56-50 with a minute left, the Vikings looked secure.

Then Byrd and Rogers (22 points, five steals) sandwiched a one-and-one miss by Lee with three-pointers and Lake Clifton was tied at 56 with 40 seconds left.

Lee made one of two foul shots to restore the Viking lead before Williams put Lake Clifton ahead, 58-57, off a feed from the penetrating Rogers. That set up the call of the game.

"We played an outstanding first half even though we missed 14 free throws," said Vetter. "But Lake Clifton came back strong on us. We don't have a senior and we were in a senior-type situation when they were coming at us.

"Our kids got a little flustered, but I'm very pleased they were able to withstand it and come back again."

The Vikings (10-1) advanced to play St. Raymond's in tonight's Northwest bracket championship game.

Lake Clifton will see a familiar rival on the other side of the ball -- Walbrook.

"We've got to play them again Wednesday and could possibly end up playing them five times," said Moore. "That's a lot to see one team."

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