COLLEGE PARK - With its school gym being renovated, Mervo has had to call the road its "home" this season. But last night at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House, another "away" court clearly favored an opponent from only 10 minutes away.
The seventh-ranked Mustangs were done in by a night of frigid shooting and poor rebounding in losing, 74-41, their Class 4A state semifinal against last year's runner-up, Eleanor Roosevelt (15-12), from nearby Greenbelt in Prince George's County.
The Raiders outscored Mervo in each of the first three periods, with their 28-6 third-quarter scoring advantage giving them enough of a lead (58-24) to have won without even playing a fourth.
Mervo outscored Roosevelt 17-16 in the final period but never was close after the opening minutes because of miserable, 12-of-55 field-goal shooting (Roosevelt shot nearly 50 percent) and a 33-18 disadvantage in rebounding. With 18 points, Paul Frazsier was Mervo's only player to score in double figures.
Mervo (17-9) had won six straight games and appeared to be peaking since losing, 68-65, at No. 1 Douglass (27-0), a team that routed Chopticon (24-1), 105-74, last night to earn a berth in tomorrow's Class 3A state title game against Gwynn Park of Prince George's County.
And for the first few minutes, Mervo seemed like its run would continue.
But after taking an early 6-0 lead, the Mustangs succumbed to a 12-0 run by the Raiders, who from missing their first six shots entered the second period with a 16-10 lead.
Mervo didn't help itself in the second quarter, either, shooting 2-for-12 from the field (compared to Roosevelt's 6-for-10). The Mustangs trailed by as many as 16 (28-12) midway through the period after being outscored 12-2.
Mervo pulled to within nine points, at 28-17, on a three-pointer by Richard Myers, but Roosevelt's Jackson beat the halftime buzzer with a tip-in, completing an 11-point first half and giving the Raiders a 30-17 lead at break.
Marshall Jackson (17 points) and Edward Young (11) led a balanced attack by Roosevelt, which earned a berth in Saturday's 8 p.m. 4A state title game against Frederick's Thomas Johnson (25-1). The Patriots handled last year's champ, Magruder, 70-61, in their 19th straight victory in last night's other semifinal.
Thomas Johnson, a 78-72 over-time winner over Mervo earlier this season, got 28 points and 12 re-bounds from Thomas Richard, 19 points from Jermaine Thomas and 12 points - on four three-pointers - from Kevin Rinehart to beat Magruder, 70-6 1. The loss ended a 14-game winning streak by Magruder (22-4), a Montgomery County school.
Thomas Johnson's Tom Dickman, coaching in his 27th season at the school, is making his 14th state final four appearance, going for his eighth state title and his public-school record 570th career victory.