Forest Park won its 17th straight game as it successfully defended its Baltimore City Division II championship with a 52-41 victory over Mervo Tuesday night at Baltimore City Community College.
Mackelle Randolph led the Foresters (17-1) with 20 points.
Mervo came closer to Forest Park than any other city team has this season. Since falling to Wilson, from Washington D.C., in the season opener, the Foresters had beaten every opponent by at least 21 points.
It was the third championship in two years for the Foresters, who also won a regional championship last season and played in the Class 1A state semifinals.
“Every time we get a championship, I can’t believe we got it. It’s like the first one,” Randolph said.
The Foresters had beaten Mervo twice during the regular season, 71-52 in December and 55-22 last week, but the Mustangs kept this one close until the final minute.
In the third quarter, Mervo tied the game at 28 when freshman Brashae Rice converted a steal with 1:16 to go. Eleven seconds later, Randolph hit two free throws to send the Foresters into the fourth quarter with a 30-28 lead.
Shania Gales opened with a 3-pointer to boost Forest Park’s lead to 33. Rice, who led the Mustangs with 15 points, converted a layup before Randolph fed Krishauna Davenport for a layup, Tiffani Rice hit a layup and Gales added a free throw for a 38-30 lead with 6:20 to go.
Mervo closed to within 38-36 on baskets from Kamryn Carter and Destiny Lacy and two Brashae Rice free throws, but the Foresters answered with a 6-0 run for a 44-36 lead on Randolph’s driving layup with 2:55 to go. The Mustangs got as close as 44-39 on Tyanna Holly’s 3-pointer, but couldn’t close the gap.
“Because we beat them twice, I think we came out lackadaisical, like they was going to give it to us,” Randolph said, “and Mervo, they’re a scrappy team. They wanted this as much as us, so in the fourth quarter, we buckled down.”
The Foresters hope to use the momentum from the city title – and 17 straight wins – to power them back to the state tournament.
“To win the state championship -- that’s our main goal for this season,” Foresters junior captain Tiffani Rice said. “We have better guards this year and we have better bigs, so that’s driving us more to go for the state championship.”