Mustangs have Lakers' number

Mervo 60 Lake Clifton 56

Boys basketball


Lake Clifton seems to bring out the beast in senior Walter Saunders, who led host Mervo to last night's 60-56 Class 3A North regional quarterfinal victory.

The 5-foot-8, 190-pound guard scored a game-high 21 points, including 7-for-9 from the free-throw line, and grabbed 12 rebounds to go with four assists and two steals as the 12th-ranked Mustangs (19-4) outlasted the Lakers (14-8) for the third time this season.

Mervo's 6-4 forward John Williams contributed 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots, and Antoine Wallace had 12 points.

But it was Saunders who was the primary catalyst against the Lakers yet again, demonstrating why coach Daryl Wade calls him "my beast."

"Being a veteran player, I felt like it was my job to calm things down in the clutch, show our team everything would be all right," said Saunders, who scored 21 points, including 12-for-15 from the free-throw line, to go with six rebounds in an earlier, 56-45 win over Lake Clifton.

Last night, Saunders scored eight of his 12 first-half points in the second quarter, helping Mervo to turn a 10-9 first-quarter lead into one of 28-19 at the half.

"The first time we played them was my best game, but this was tougher - beating them the third time," Saunders said. "I had to take a couple of charges, make clutch free throws, and as a team, we were able to pull it out again."

Terrence Jones (19 points), Derrious Gilmore (13), Neal Brown (10) and Daryl Eberhart (eight) led the visiting Lakers.

The Lakers battled back to within 41-38 entering the third quarter, when consecutive three-pointers by Gilmore, a freshman, gave them a 51-50 lead with 3:46 to play. Gilmore had three three-pointers.

But Saunders scored nine of the Mustangs' 19 points in the fourth quarter, in which he went 5-for-6 from the line. Saunders twice converted both free throws to give Mervo leads of 57-54 and 60-56.

The Mustangs host tomorrow's semifinal against Catonsville.

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