Lake Clifton was too short-handed and simply too short to cope with top-ranked Southern yesterday.
Although the No. 4 Lakers gave it a determined effort, Southern pulled away in the final six minutes and scored a 78-70 victory in a Baltimore City 4A game at Lake Clifton.
Except for Terrance Payne and Reggie Frazier, Lake Clifton was missing its key inside players with 6-foot-5 Charles Owens and 6-6 Bernard Williams academically ineligible the rest of the season.
Then, during school hours yesterday, guard Ronald Byrd was stabbed in the side with a pen during an incident in the cafeteria and was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital. Lake Clifton athletic director Mabel Wilson said last night that Byrd was listed in satisfactory condition. She said the injury did not appear to be too serious. Wilson said she could not provide any other details about the incident.
"We definitely missed his leadership and his scoring," Lakers coach Charlie Moore said of Byrd. "It was unfortunate."
Despite all the troubles, the Lakers were ahead 61-60 with 6:21 to play before Southern senior guards Damon Cason and Kevin Simpson took over the game.
While Lake Clifton underwent a scoreless drought of nearly five minutes, Simpson and Cason scored 11 of the next 13 points to give the Bulldogs a 73-61 advantage with 1:56 remaining.
Simpson packed 14 of his game-high 30 points into the fourth quarter and Cason added eight of his 27, including six of seven from the foul line.
"We were a little sluggish at the beginning and let them back in thegame," Cason said. "We knew we had to step up another notch and they couldn't keep up."
Southern (15-1, 7-1) applied some tough defense against 5-5 Lakers spark plug Shawnta Rogers, whose offense was stifled except for one spurt.
Four different players rotated to check Rogers and the Bulldogs kept him under wraps until he scored 15 in the third quarter and shot Lake Clifton (12-6, 6-4) back into contention.
"We tried as hard as we could to keep the ball out of his hands," Bulldogs coach Meredith Smith said. "You need a few guys to handle him. Our kids finally realized we had to use our size."
Southern also went without a top inside player. Forward Dante Williams was out ill, Cason said.
The Bulldogs were more inclined to look ahead to today's showdown with No. 2 Southwestern, which brought them back to earth after their victory over nationally top-ranked Rice at the Charm City Classic on Jan. 29.
"It's going to take a team effort against them this time," Cason said. "Kevin and me had 51 of the 70 points the first time.
"This is revenge, payback. They caught us when we were letting down after not being named No. 1 [in the nation]. This time it will be a whole different story."
Smith added: "This is the game we want to win. Hopefully, we're focused on that . . . winning . . . and not ratings."
Rogers finished with 22 points to pace the Lakers, who meet Patterson instead of Broadneck, in the Fuel Fund Classic today. Frazier added 15 points before fouling out.
"All I could ask was that our kids play hard and together," Moore said. "They did that."
They just didn't have enough players to cope with a team as talented as Southern.