Jenifer shines as Mervo gains first 4A finals Mustangs put 86-73 win over Patterson in books

Boys basketball

March 07, 1998|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The No. 2-ranked Mervo Mustangs gained their first spot in the state final four with an 86-73 victory over Patterson to take the Class 4A North region championship at Poly last night.

Senior guard Damian Jenifer scored a game-high 33 points for Mervo. Melvin Bridges added 18 and Marcus Hatten 16. Nathaniel Mercer led Patterson (11-12) with 28 points and Kevin Edwards scored 17.

The Mustangs (20-4) will play Thursday at Cole Field House in a state semifinal game, hoping to retain the Class 4A title for Baltimore schools, which have won it the last four seasons.

Leading by five points, Mervo put together a tenacious display of defense and intensity in the third quarter, turning a 33-28 halftime lead into 53-38 after three periods.

The Mustangs led by as many 18 points before Patterson got within 11 at 75-64 with under three minutes to play. But Jenifer came back for Mervo with a dunk and layup to build a 15-point cushion.

"We wanted this more than any team in the city," said the 6-1 lTC Jenifer. "We played consistent, especially in the second half. We played intense defense."

Holding to an one-point lead at 35-34 early in the third quarter, Mervo ran 16 straight points and held Patterson without a field goal for five minutes.

Jenifer, who had 10 points in the key third quarter, put the finishing touch on the 16-0 run with a jumper, then a steal and two-handed dunk.

"We didn't stick to our game plan and got frustrated," said Patterson coach Larry Alexander. "Those two guards [Hatten and Jenifer] are just too quick for us, and once we got close to them, they blew right past us."

Patterson led 21-16 before the Mustangs went on an 8-0 run to take a 24-21 lead with 4: 15 remaining in the opening half.

The Mustangs scored the final seven points to take a 33-28 halftime lead as Hatten came up with a block, leading to a jumper by Jenifer, to close out the half.

"We have played with a blue-collar, hard-hat mentality all season," said Mervo coach Woody Williams. "Sometimes our jumpers fall and we look like a million dollars, but sometimes we got to get those uniforms dirty. Every time, the kids have come through."

Pub Date: 3/07/98

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