The area's No. 1 ranking is becoming hard to keep.
Top-ranked and previously unbeaten Southwestern, only a week removed from beating previous-No. 1 Southern-Baltimore at the buzzer, fell yesterday to No. 5 Lake Clifton, 80-78, in a Baltimore City 4A League game at Southwestern.
Again, it came down to the final shot for the Sabers (13-1, 5-1), who, trailing by two, had the ball with 9.9 seconds remaining.
Haywood Eaddy received the inbounds pass and drove downcourt but was met by a double-team after he crossed midcourt. He got the ball over to Reginald Johnson, who attempted to win the game with a three-pointer from the left corner.
The ball bounced off the rim. Donnie Joy rebounded the ball under the basket and put it back up off the glass. The ball rolled off the front of the rim and was knocked away by the Lakers as time expired.
"This was a good win for us," said Lake Clifton guard Shawnta Rogers. "We played together despite losing two players. We knew we had to come out here and suck it up and played hard."
The Lakers (12-5, 6-3), who were handled by the Sabers, 92-76, in their first meeting, Dec. 14, were without Bernard Williams and Charles Owens.
Williams, a 6-foot-6 senior forward who starts occasionally, and Owens, a 6-6 sophomore forward who comes off the bench, were declared academically ineligible this week, leaving the Lakers short-handed.
But Rogers took care of business yesterday for Lake Clifton.
The 5-5 junior scored 33 points, including a 14-for-15 performance from the free-throw line in the final period, 18 of 20 overall.
Terrance Payne added 16 points and was dominant on the defensive end, pulling down 17 rebounds and blocking nine shots.
"A winner is an ordinary person with extraordinary determination," said Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore.
"Today, we played with that determination and made that extra pass to break their press."
The Lakers, who were 30-for-35 from the free-throw line, had a 79-76 lead with 36 seconds left in regulation after two one-and-one free throws by Jimmy Moore. Ernie Evans' jumper in the lane brought Southwestern to within 79-78 with 22 seconds to play.
On the ensuing inbounds, Lake Clifton nearly turned the ball over in the backcourt, but Rogers got the ball and drove in for a shot and was fouled by Antoine Mayo. He hit the first foul shot, then missed the second. But Moore was called for a lane violation, giving possession to the Sabers with 9.9 seconds left with a chance to send the game into overtime or to win.
This time, there would be no last-second heroics for Southwestern.
"I'm disappointed at the way we played," said Southwestern coach Terry Leverett, whose team plays at No. 2 Southern-Baltimore tomorrow at 3:30. "We played one of our worst games of the season. Lake Clifton came in short-handed and we didn't step up."
Eaddy led the Sabers with 21 points, followed by 16 from Evans. Aaron Jolly, whose three-pointer at the buzzer stunned Southern last week, added 15.
With 2:57 left in the game, Jolly pulled the Sabers even at 67 with two free throws. Reggie Frazier hit a jumper in the lane, giving Lake Clifton the lead back at 69-67 with 2:47 remaining. On the other end, Eaddy was called for a push-off on Rogers, who hit two free throws, extending the Lakers' lead to 71-67.
After a jumper by Jolly with 2:04 left pulled Southwestern to 71-69, both teams exchanged six free throws. With 46 seconds left, Eaddy hit the back end of two free throws, making it 77-76. Jolly fouled Moore, who hit two one-and-one free throws with 36 seconds left.
"We're disappointed that we didn't get the win, but Lake Clifton is a good team," Eaddy said.
"You can lose at any time and this woke us up. This makes us realize that we can be beaten and not get bigheaded."