Ahead by five points at halftime yesterday against fourth-ranked Lake Clifton, Milford Mill coach Ed Smith asked a friend to "say a prayer for us."
The second half told the reason why, as the Lakers improved to 4-0 with a come-from-behind, 66-54 victory in the 13th Wes Unseld Tournament at Catonsville Community College.
Andre Mouzone scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, including nine in the fourth period, and went 6-for-6 from the foul line. Teammate Dale Byrd contributed 10 of his 17 points in the second half, and Lake Clifton earned a berth in tonight's 6: 15 semifinal against Old Mill (5-1), a 74-59 winner over Woodlawn (2-5).
Javis Wiggins finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and scored the Lakers' first seven points in the game (nine in the first period alone), and 6-foot-8 teammate Brandon Haughton contributed 12 rebounds and four points for a team that shot 10-for-12 at the line.
For 16th-ranked Milford (5-1), Richard Johnson (17 points) and Derwin Butler (16) led the way. The Millers face Baltimore County 3A-4A League rival Woodlawn in a 3 p.m. consolation game.
"A letdown was what I was concerned about, and that's exactly what happened," Smith said. "Once they came back, you could see our kids froze up. I was confident we could win, but the score wasn't indicative of the overall game."
Trailing 32-27 at the half, Lake Clifton whittled its way to 36-33 with 5: 01 left in the third period and to 40-39 on a steal that led to a fast-break layup by Teione Carroll (11 points). Byrd tied the game at 44-44 with seven seconds left in the quarter, and that was the score entering the final period.
"Coach [Herman Harried] didn't really make a fuss at halftime, just told us we weren't focused," said Byrd.
The game was tied twice more in the fourth before a 7-0 run by the Lakers, including Mouzone's three-pointer and subsequent short jumper for a 55-48 lead with 5: 28 to play. Johnson's free throws cut the lead to 57-52 with 2: 48 left, but the Lakers clinched the game with a 9-2 run.
"The difference was defense after we got our heads in the game," said Mouzone. "Coach put Teione Carroll on Richard Johnson, and they fell apart."
Johnson scored two points in the third period and no field goals in the fourth.
Down 7-2 early, the Millers tied the game at 9-9 with 1: 58 left in the first quarter -- capped by two sweet driving layups by Butler in traffic. Consecutive fast-break baskets by Johnson, the latter with 15 seconds remaining, had the Millers up 15-13 entering the second period, where they seemed nearly unstoppable in transition and led by as much as 32-22.
"We weren't going that hard in the second quarter, and they just outplayed us," Wiggins said. "At halftime, we were told to start rebounding, hitting our second and third shots."
In an earlier game, Old Mill built a 10-point halftime lead over Woodlawn and cruised to victory, led by Craig Hall (23 points) and Jason Galloway (18).
No. 10 Randallstown (6-0) got 11 points from Bariki Savage and 10 points from James Jegede in a 53-31 rout of winless Hammond (0-6). The Rams face Broadneck (3-3), a 55-43 winner over Edmondson (2-5), at 8 p.m.
Broadneck led comfortably throughout its victory, getting 18 points from Lehrman Dotson and 17 from Jeff Logan. Edmondson faces Hammond today at 4: 45.
Pub Date: 12/29/98