Western advances past Mervo Youth doesn't keep Doves out of the region finals

February 29, 1996|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Words such as "rebuilding" and "learning" are not often used to describe wining teams.

Unless, of course, that team is Western.

Despite having a team comprised of mostly sophomores and freshmen, the 19th-ranked Doves moved within one win of returning to the Class 4A state semifinals by defeating visiting Mervo, 68-53, in a North region semifinal yesterday.

Western (19-5), which graduated six Division I players from the team that won back-to-back state titles and reached the championship game three consecutive years, will travel to Perry Hall, a 61-37 winner over Dulaney, in the region final tomorrow night at 7.

"I'm very proud of them," Western coach Breezy Bishop said. "They're growing, they're learning, and in the years to come they are going to be very good. While they go through the learning and growing pains, you just have to be patient and take one game at a time."

Six-foot-2 freshman Crystal Fallin came off the bench to score 17 points and grab 11 rebounds to lead Western.

Junior Marion Moore added 15 points and 13 rebounds and freshman Latia Few contributed 10 points.

The Doves used their size advantage to dominate inside, out-rebounding the Mustangs, 57-41, including a 37-19 edge on the offensive boards.

Fallin, in particular, was especially strong in the paint.

"Sometimes she plays like a freshman and other times she steps up and plays like an athlete," Bishop said. "She's a true talent."

Mervo (13-6), which has shown gradual improvement over the past few years, took an early lead and remained within striking distance throughout the game.

One bad quarter, however, proved to be the Mustangs' undoing. After taking a 12-11 lead after the first quarter, Mervo was outscored, 21-7, in the second period.

The Mustangs, who go only seven players deep, also were hurt by foul trouble. At halftime, two players had three fouls and four had two. Three starters eventually fouled out.

"It was frustrating because all the fouls we picked up took the kids out of the game," Mervo coach Nancy Havranek said. "They were just deeper than we were."

Western, which led 46-35 after three quarters, equaled its biggest lead when Few made both ends of a one-and-one with 3:13 remaining to put the Doves ahead, 61-45.

Mervo then made one last run, scoring the next seven points and pulling within 61-52 on Melisa Knox's three-pointer with 1:37 left, but that's as close as it would get.

Knox scored 13 points to pace the Mustangs.

Cheryl Evans (11 points, 16 rebounds), Alexis Washington (10 points) and Mechelle Dukes (10 points) also scored in double figures for Mervo.

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