Southern returns to state semifinals with victory over Lake Clifton, 70-63 No. 3 Bulldogs avenge '95 playoff loss to Lakers

Boys basketball

March 02, 1996|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Southern-B coach Meredith Smith always stresses execution on offense and defense from his teams. But there were many moments yesterday that he probably felt he was watching last year's inexperienced and mistake-proned team instead of the one that has been near perfect this season.

The team that he has groomed for a run at a state championship returned to form and moved one step closer to its goal with a 70-63 victory over the defending state 4A champs and No. 4 Lake Clifton to take the North Region title.

Dedric Galloway led No. 3 Southern (21-3) with 20 points and John Hemsley and Marlon Wise each added 16.

Michael King led Lake Clifton (20-3) with 32 points.

The Bulldogs, ranked No. 16 in the nation by USA Today, advances to the state semifinals at College Park for the third time in four seasons, where it will play against a yet to be determined opponent Thursday.

Southern, which won state titles in 1993 and 1994, will be joined by either Dunbar or Carver, which meet today at 1 p.m. for the 3A East Region title, as city schools in the state semifinals. In four state tournaments, Baltimore City has sent nine representatives to Cole Field House.

The victory by the Bulldogs yesterday could be considered a passing of the torch. A year ago, Lake Clifton completed a three-game season sweep of Southern with a victory in the region final, ending the Bulldogs' pursuit of a third straight state title.

In its lone regular-season meeting in January, Southern handled Lake Clifton by 20 points, but the Lakers weren't prepared to relinquish their title yesterday.

Lake Clifton was within 63-60 with 2:35 remaining after a basket by King. Marlon Wise penetrated the middle and dished off to Jelani Wise for a layup, then Galloway hit two free throws for a 67-60 lead with 1:28 left.

The Lakers closed to 67-63 with 30 seconds remaining, but Galloway went in for a layup with 23 seconds left.

Lake Clifton missed two opportunities on the other end, and Marlon Wise got the rebound and hit a free throw with 10.8 seconds remaining.

"We were just standing around in the first half," said Smith, who's 15-1 in the state playoffs. "That's why we weren't able to doing anything offensively because they didn't have to move on defense."

Hemsley, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, grabbed a miss by Galloway and powered it back in, giving Southern a 46-45 lead with 1:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Lake Clifton regained the lead, but the Bulldogs worked the ball in to Galloway, who nailed a three-pointer from the corner with 43 seconds left, then Marlon Wise (11 assists) penetrated the middle again, finding Brian Kennedy for a layup, extending the lead to 51-47 after three quarters.

While the Lakers were on a five-minute drought without a field goal, Southern increased its lead to 57-49 with 5:21 remaining in the game before a three-pointer by Dante Lemmon and a layup by King brought Lake Clifton back to 57-54.

Marlon Wise again exploited the Lakers, this time for a layup before Jelani Wise got a Lakers miss and found Hemsley for a dunk to put Southern ahead, 61-54, with 3:33 remaining.

"It was a game of spurts," said Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore. "We had an early lead, but then they get two three-pointers and like that, it's gone. We played through a couple of spurts, but we couldn't hold up."

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