COLLEGE PARK -- Mervo's bid to capture its first state title in boys basketball came to a crushing halt yesterday with a 70-56 loss to Lackey in the state 3A semifinals at the Comcast Center.
One week after upsetting then-No. 2 Walbrook in the 3A North regional final, the No. 8 Mustangs could not muster enough offense to knock off the upstart Chargers of Charles County. Lackey used a slow-tempo offense to maintain possession and took advantage of its size on the defensive end.
Mustangs coach Daryl Wade said his team simply did not execute well enough on offense. Mervo shot just 33 percent from the field, committed 14 turnovers and was 7-for-15 from the line.
"We got away from our concept, and defensively, we had some breakdowns," Wade said. "Offensively, we just couldn't click. We weren't patient and were just forcing shots. We weren't playing our own basketball. We were playing their type of basketball and that hurt us."
Mervo and Lackey stayed close in the first half as neither team led by more than six points. Antoine Wallace hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Mustangs a 26-25 lead at halftime.
However, Mervo (21-5) began to unravel in the third quarter and was held to four field goals as Lackey opened up a six-point lead going into the final period.
Wallace started strong for Mervo, scoring 11 of his team's first 18 points, but was held to just six points in the second half. Wallace still finished with a game-high 20 points and seven steals. Walter Sanders had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Mustangs.
Wallace said that the Chargers (25-1) didn't do anything defensively to shut him down in the second half.
"I was just trying to get my teammates more involved," Wallace said. "Things just weren't clicking for us."
Lackey, ranked No. 6 in The Washington Post, was led by its 6-foot-8 center Tavon Jackson, who finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and nine blocks. Demetrius Wallace finished with 19 points for the Chargers, who are also looking to capture their first state championship.
"We worked real hard all year to get to this spot, and honestly, I don't think there are a lot of people in this state who thought we would be playing on Saturday for a state championship," said Lackey's first-year coach Tony Mast.