When Woody Williams took over the Mervo basketbal program this season, he knew it would take awhile to put it on the same level as those at Dunbar and Lake Clifton.
And even though the Mustangs were tied for first with Dunbar and Lake Clifton in the Maryland Scholastic Association Gamper Conference 4A-2A-1A Division, they may not be ready to compete with those teams.
Take last night for an example.
Before an estimated crowd of 2,000 at Morgan State, the top-ranked Poets defeated the Mustangs, 87-43.
The Poets (8-1, 3-0), ranked 12th nationally by USA Today, have won 60 of their last 61 games and haven't lost to a team in the
area since a 60-57 loss to Southern on March 3, 1990 in the MSA A Conference championship game at the Baltimore Arena.
Mervo (6-3, 3-1) had won six of its last seven games, but the Poets built a 24-point halftime lead and led by as many as the final margin in the second half.
Senior forward Keith Booth and junior center Norman Nolan led Dunbar with 17 points each. Yashida King had 15, and Alexander Mobley and Michael Cooper added 12 each.
Dunbar dominated the game in every facet, outrebounding the Mustangs, 35-17, and constantly beating them downcourt for easy layups and dunks.
"They demonstrated that's the level that you have to get to to be successful," said Williams. "That's what we're aspiring to, and brick by brick, we will get there."
Junior guard Corey Hartz led the Mustangs with 17 points and had four assists. Warren Wright, Mervo's leading scorer, was limited to seven.
The Mustangs trailed 18-9 after the opening period, despite 10 points by Booth. The Poets opened the second quarter with a 12-2 spurt to extend their lead to 30-11. Nolan finished with 12 in the quarter, and the Poets led 45-21 at the half.
Dunbar picked up where it left off, outscoring the Mustangs 11-2 at the start of the second half and increasing the margin to 56-23.
Dunbar coach Pete Pompey was pleased with the Poets' effort, especially their shooting (34 of 58) which had become a weakness in recent weeks.
"We've got to continue to do a better job putting the ball in the basket than we have been doing," he said. "There was some NTC improvement tonight. We've been working hard, shooting over 200 shots in practice, and hopefully, it will start to pay off."