No. 2-ranked Mervo pulled away late in the fourth quarter to defeat No. 6 Lake Clifton, 56-52, in a Baltimore City East Division contest yesterday.
It was Mervo's first victory on the Lakers' home court.
Junior guard Marcus Hatten scored a game-high 26 points for the Mustangs (14-3, 3-1) and Damian Jenifer added 12.
Rodney Bass led Lake Clifton (10-6, 3-3) with 17 points and Joe Able contributed 14.
"These kids are pioneers, going over roads that have never been available," said Mervo coach Woody Williams, who coached at Lake Clifton from 1971 to 1987. "It's a good feeling to achieve some objectives like that."
The Mustangs have won 11 of their last 12 games, moving up to the area's No. 2 ranking, another first for the Memorial Stadium-area school. They started building momentum at the Nash Invitational Tournament in December, where they beat host Douglass, then handled Lake Clifton, 70-61.
Hatten, who had 20 points in that victory, helped his team pull away yesterday, slicing his way in for a layup with 2: 44 remaining in the game that broke a 47-47 tie. Jenifer followed with another layup and then a free throw by Kevin Taylor and Melvin Bridges put the Mustangs up 53-47 with 1: 16 left.
"They slowed the game down, and we couldn't run as much in the first half," said the 6-foot-2 Hatten. "We expected them to do that, so we had to adjust and also slow the pace."
After that sluggish first half for both teams, Hatten got Mervo going in the third quarter, scoring 12 consecutive points, helping the Mustangs to their largest lead.
The Lakers, who were without leading scorer Kevin Smith because of hip and ankle injuries, got within 53-50 on a three-pointer by Bass with 54 seconds left. He scored 11 points in the final quarter.
"We got a couple of good looks, but we didn't convert," said Lake Clifton coach Herman Harried of the Lakers' late failures. "Against a team like Mervo, you can't go five possessions without scoring, because they will score somewhere along the line."
"Hopefully, we have matured to a point where we understand that we have to work hard to be successful," said Williams. "Sometimes it's ugly, but the harder we work, the luckier we get."
No. 12 Mount St. Joseph 49, No. 8 Archbishop Spalding 40: Sean Johnson led all scorers with 17 points as the Gaels (18-7, 4-6) upset the Cavaliers in a Catholic League game at Spalding. Johnson scored five points during a 13-5 run that allowed Mount St. Joseph to extend a four-point lead (29-25) at halftime. Spalding is now 14-13 overall, 5-5 in the league.
Pub Date: 2/11/98