For the last couple seasons, Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore has come up with a slogan describing his team. This season, it's "We Are PHDs," the letters standing for "poor," "hungry" and "determined."
Winning four of its first five games by an average of 50 points, Lake Clifton was anything but poor.
But against No. 8 Randallstown yesterday, the No. 5 Lakers needed every bit of determination, pulling away for a 64-51 victory at the Function in the Junction Mixer before a capacity crowd at Walbrook.
Junior guard Kevin Braswell led Lake Clifton (5-1), ranked No. 20 in this week's USA Today Super 25, with a game-high 22 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Michael King added 11 points and 10 steals.
Braswell's replacement, junior Damon Spells, sparked a late 8-0 run by Lake Clifton, driving the baseline and hitting a layup that put the Lakers in front by 57-50 with 2: 27 remaining. The lead eventually grew to 63-50.
"We were PHDs today. We played with a lot of heart and had a couple players nursing bad ankles," said Moore, whose team has only lost to Southwestern. "You can't take nothing away from Randallstown. They played us tough."
The early minutes of the final quarter were like a final round of a championship boxing match as both teams went back and forth, bodies sprawling for loose balls.
And there was Randallstown (4-1), down 12 points early in the second half, doggedly back within three points -- twice. The second time was at 48-45 with 6: 36 to play in the game.
The Rams could have edged even closer but missed the front end of an one-and-one, leading to a basket by Braswell. Then, their renewed possession ended with an offensive foul, followed immediately by a jumper from the Lakers' Rodney Bass that pushed Lake Clifton's ahead, 52-45.
Still, Randallstown fought -- pulling to 55-50 with 3: 41 remaining. Then, the wheels stopped. In the game's last 4: 36, the Rams could produce only a free throw and one field goal.
"Our goal was to keep Braswell and King from seriously hurting us, and we did a fine job," said Randallstown coach Kim Rivers. "Their bench and some other kids came through for them, but it was a hard-fought game. Our kids played well, and we'll learn from this."
The Rams were able to stay in contention without a major contribution from Demon Brown. The 6-foot-1 junior point guard, who averaged 19 points through the team's first four games, had only four yesterday. While he struggled, Braswell, also 6-1, was the opposite for Lake Clifton.
He set the tone early for Lake Clifton with penetration and outside shooting, scoring 10 points in the opening quarter. The Lakers led 22-11 early in the second.
Brown scored his first basket with 3: 11 remaining in the first half, pulling the Rams to within 30-24. Lake Clifton held a 32-26 halftime advantage.
The Lakers built a 46-38 lead over the third period, but Randallstown came back again, scoring five straight to cut the margin to 46-43 with 7: 09 left in the game.
"We knew this would be a tough game," said Braswell, one of the Lakers with a sore ankle. "Their guards are pretty good, but our experience was the difference."
Woodlawn captures first
In the first game, Gabriel Brooks scored 15 points and Paul Kwajafa and Damon Garris each added 12 as No. 16 Woodlawn (1-1) defeated Northern (2-1), 72-59.
Walbrook wins first, too
The final game saw tourney-host Walbrook (1-3) win its first of the season, defeating Edmondson (1-3), 66-57. Antonio Tripp led Walbrook with 25 points. Virgil Singleton had a game-high 26 for Edmondson.
Pub Date: 12/21/96