Mervo rallies in 4th quarter, then holds off Lake Clifton Jenifer's free throws push Mustangs to 71-70 victory

March 03, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

After his foul shots gave Mervo a one-point edge with 23 seconds left in a Class 4A quarterfinal contest with visiting Lake Clifton, Damien Jenifer thought the game would never end.

Somehow, there was still time for two missed layups by the 10th-ranked Lakers' Rodney Bass (26 points). Then there was a jump ball with six seconds remaining that gave Lake Clifton (14-8) possession yet again.

Not until teammate Marcus Hatten (20 points) grabbed his eighth rebound of the night off yet another miss by the Lakers' Dale Byrd, then dribbled out of harm's way, could Jenifer (23 points) and the No. 3 Mustangs (21-3) claim a 71-70 victory that earned them a quarterfinal matchup against today's No. 2 Southern (18-3)-Walbrook winner.

"We knew this was going to be a tough, tough game, and that we could never count them out," said Jenifer, a senior who was zTC sent to the line for the game-clinching points when Lake Clifton's Kevin Smith (27 points) fouled out.

Jenifer's concerns were warranted in the game, which was tied five times in the final period.

Down by six at halftime of a game with No. 18 Douglass on Friday, Lake Clifton had used a monstrous third period in a come-from-behind win. The Lakers appeared to be doing the same thing last night, turning a 37-29 halftime deficit into a 55-50 lead heading into the fourth quarter against Mervo.

However, Mervo, with help from 6-foot-6 Hugh Brown (14 points, seven rebounds) and 6-6 Kevin Taylor (nine, six), was able to stem the tide.

"It was just going to be another one of those games where we had to come out hard, play hard the whole time," Jenifer said.

Mervo led by only 17-15 after Lake Clifton closed the first period with two emphatic dunks. A one-hander by Smith, with a defender on him, came after a steal and a double-handed slam by Bass came off an assist from Joe Able.

A jumper by Bass gave the visitors a brief lead, 20-19, with 5: 46 left in the half.

But the Mustangs shot over 50 percent in the first half and out-scored the Lakers, 18-9, for a 37-29 lead at intermission. Jenifer ignited the run, breaking a 22-22 tie with his jumper. That was followed by an NBA-distance three-pointer by teammate William Fortune.

Pub Date: 3/03/98

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