Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore didn't use his team's early exit from last season's Class 4A state playoffs as a motivating factor yesterday against Largo.
After all, that was last season, and good coaches always try to look toward the future.
But for the third-ranked Lakers, drubbing the defending Class 4A champions, 85-56, in the third annual Function at the Junction Basketball Mixer at Coppin State sure felt good.
Five-foot-four guard Shawnta Rogers scored a game-high 28 points and was a key player in Lake Clifton's 27-6 first-half run that gave the Lakers the lead for good.
For Moore, the win was significant.
"It's a good win to beat the 4A champions," said Moore, whose team lost to High Point -- the same team that Largo defeated for the championship -- in the regional semifinals. "It's still an early-season game, but I think this was a pretty good barometer of how we're going to do."
But this wasn't the same Lions team that collected the riches in College Park last winter. It lost nine seniors to graduation, including its top seven players, and is 0-4 this season with an inexperienced lineup.
For the players, however, none of that really mattered.
"They were 4A champs last year, and we want to be champs this year," said Rogers. "We wanted this game."
And the Lakers played like it.
Using a small but extremely quick lineup, Lake Clifton (3-1) forced 15 turnovers in the first half in building a 36-28 lead by the break.
The difference in the game was an impressive eight-minute run by the Lakers midway through the first half, in which they outscored Largo, 27-6, while shooting 11 of 12 from the field and forcing 10 turnovers.
L For Largo coach Louis Wilson, turnovers were the difference.
"Their pressure defense bothered us a little bit," said Wilson. "They trapped us real well and we turned it over. We just didn't handle the pressure today."
Trailing 11-6 after the first three minutes, Lake Clifton began forcing the action with pressure man-to-man defense.
It forced three consecutive turnovers and scored 10 of the next 15 points to tie the game at 16-16, then took the lead for good on Rogers' double-pump jumper from 10 feet with 32 seconds left in the quarter.
The Lakers kept up the pressure on the Lions, and by mid-second quarter had build the lead to 33-17 after a three-pointer by Jimmie Moore with 5:03 to play in the half.
"That was our game plan," said Rogers, "to come out here and press and steal the ball. We go three guards so we knew we had the quickness."
Moore and Terrance Payne each scored 18 for the Lakers, Ronald Byrd had 11 and Reggie Frazier added seven.
The victory gave Lake Clifton two wins in two days against perennial state contenders. Thursday, the Lakers defeated Potomac, 83-59.
Moore, however, still sees a lot of room for improvement.
"I think we put together six really good quarters in the last couple days," said Moore, "but we've got to play four complete quarters every game. Still, it's a good win."