Hatten, Mervo beat clock, Douglass, 71-70 Shot at buzzer wins game for No. 14 Mustangs

L. Clifton cruises in Nash

John Nash tournament

December 30, 1997|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Mervo coach Woody Williams was little concerned with his team's No. 18 preseason ranking and those who felt his team would be a contender in the City East division.

Despite having three returning starters, Williams wasn't sure if the Mustangs were mature enough to respond in challenging situations.

But if yesterday's 71-70 victory over host and No. 15 Douglass in the first round of the John Nash Holiday Tournament is an indication, No. 14 Mervo is showing signs of coming together.

Trailing by three points with two minutes left after leading for the most of the game, Mervo scored the last four points to advance to today's 3 p.m. championship game against No. 6 Lake Clifton. The Lakers defeated Walbrook, 98-44, in the other first-round game.

Senior guard Marcus Hatten provided the victory for the Mustangs (4-2), hitting a short turnaround jumper as time expired.

Hatten, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, scored 20 points to follow backcourt mate Damian Jenifer, who scored 29. Chuckie Harris led all scorers with 41 points for Douglass (3-5).

Hatten brought Mervo to within 70-69 with a basket with 1: 05 remaining. He grabbed a rebound off a miss by Harris with 17 seconds left, then missed his shot. Hugh Brown got the rebound, then was tied up, but Mervo had the alternating possession with four seconds left.

After Douglass used a timeout, Hatten in-bounded the ball under the Mustangs' net to Brown, who quickly gave it back for Hatten. Hatten turned and hit a quick fadeaway.

"I saw my big man [Brown] open, and told him to step out, and I was coming back to get the ball," said Hatten, who scored eight of Mervo's 13 fourth-quarter points. "I was going to the hole, then everybody stopped, spun around and I shot it. That was the only shot I could take."

The Mustangs had an advantage from the opening tip, leading by as many as 14 points in the first half and by 10 early in the fourth quarter.

Douglass battled back, finally pulling even at 66 after a steal and layup by Harris with 3: 07 remaining. Hatten put Mervo back ahead with a free throw, then Harris hit a short baseline jumper and Joe Ison followed with a 10-footer, giving Douglass a 70-67 lead.

"Hopefully, we've gotten to the point that we believe in each other," said coach Williams. "Sometimes you don't have your best stuff, but you have to keep working and plugging, and that's what we did."

The second game belonged to Kevin Smith, who scored a game-high 43 points for Lake Clifton (3-2).

Smith, a transfer from St. Frances, scored the Lakers' first 11 points, including three three-pointers. He finished with 17 in the opening quarter.

Smith added two three-pointers and an alley-oop dunk in the second quarter, helping Lake Clifton build a 40-16 advantage over Walbrook (1-5) before the half. Smith had 29 points in the opening 16 minutes.

"I was just feeling it today," said Smith, who added 11 rebounds and three assists. "We played as a team and won together."

Joe Able contributed 16 points for Lake Clifton, and Andre Mouzone had 15.

Hubert Thorpe scored 23 points to lead Walbrook, which will play Douglass in the consolation game at 1 p.m. today.

Pub Date: 12/30/97

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