A lesson learned well, Mervo ousts Southern Mustangs triumph, 57-49

late foul shots decisive

March 06, 1998|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Southern-Balto. defeated Mervo two weeks ago, Mustangs coach Woody Williams compared the loss to a big brother teaching the young sibling a lesson.

The little brother learned his lesson well.

The No. 3-ranked Mustangs returned the favor yesterday, defeating the No. 2 Bulldogs, 57-49, in a Class 4A North region semifinal played at Poly.

Mervo, the top-seed, will play Patterson for the regional championship and a spot in next weekend's state final four at Cole Field House. Mervo defeated Patterson during the regular season.

Damian Jenifer scored 15 points and Kevin Taylor added 14 to lead Mervo (19-4) yesterday. Freshman Melvin Scott led Southern (19-4) with 13 points and his brother Charles scored 10.

With the game tied at 48, Jenifer drew an offensive foul on Tyus Johnson, his fifth. Moments later, Southern got a technical for taking too long to replace Johnson.

Jenifer, who dropped in six free throws in the final quarter, hit two bonus one-and-one free throws. He followed with one of two for the technical foul, giving Mervo a 51-48 with 1: 28 remaining.

The Bulldogs got within 52-49 on a free throw by Charles Scott with 23 seconds left but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 11 seconds remaining. Melvin Bridges knocked down three free throws in the final nine seconds.

"We were able to keep the game from being up-and-down the court," said Williams, whose team is a victory away from its first state final four appearance. "Southern is very good in the open court, and they have have a deeper bench."

The Bulldogs, who beat Mervo 66-55 in the regular season, trailed at the half yesterday, 26-14.

Southern rallied in the second half and had a 43-40 lead with 4: 59 remaining. Charles Scott, one of the area's top freshmen, hit a three-pointer and then, a tough baseline jumper.

Mervo's Marcus Hatten scored to make it 43-42, but then Melvin Scott was called for an intentional foul on Jenifer. Jenifer hit the two free throws; Mervo, 44-43.

Mervo's Hugh Brown made a layup to make it 46-43, but Tyus Johnson tied it at 46 with a three-pointer. Brown added a free throw for Mervo. Then Johnson hit a jumper, giving Southern its final lead at 48-47 with 2: 19 remaining. A free throw by Jenifer with 1: 34 left tied the game at 48-48.

"There's two halves to a ball game, especially the final three minutes, and we created too many fouls," said Southern coach Meredith Smith, whose team attempted just 15 free throws, compared to 43 for Mervo. "The game wasn't won from the floor. It was won from the free throw line."

Pub Date: 3/06/98

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