No. 9 Mervo had to confront a difficult situation in its Baltimore City non-league game with No. 11 Southwestern yesterday.
For the first time this season, Mervo had to play the closing minutes of a tight game without All-Metro guard Marcus Hatten, who had fouled out.
The Mustangs passed the test, closing out the Sabers for a 71-65 triumph.
Hatten led all scorers with 26 points for Mervo (7-2), and Kevin Taylor and Everett Walker each added 11. Terrell Dantzler scored 17 to lead Southwestern (7-4).
Hatten, arguably the area's best guard, fouled out with 2: 33 remaining in regulation, and the Mustangs holding a 64-55 advantage.
With Hatten gone, Southwestern, which battled back to within four earlier in the quarter, had an opportunity to make another run. It never came.
With four underclassmen on the court, Mervo held Southwestern to one field goal in six attempts as the lead grew to 70-58 with under a minute left.
"It's good to see that the other guys can perform," said Mervo coach Woody Williams. "They have a tendency to look over their shoulder for Marcus, but in that situation, they were able to keep their concentration."
Junior Djuan Sheppard came up with three rebounds in the final quarter, and finished with nine points. The sophomore backcourt of Donald Thomas and Xavier Jackson did a creditable job against Southwestern's press.
"It's about time we got other units to come together as one," said Hatten, 6-foot-2 senior. "They don't need me on the floor all the time for us win. We showed that today."
It was the Sabers' defense that brought them from a 15-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to four at 51-47 in less than 90 seconds.
After a basket by Hatten gave the Mustangs a 64-55 lead, he attempted to step in front of a pass at half court, and was whistled for his fifth and final foul.
The Sabers didn't take immediate advantage of the foul as Mark Turner missed both bonus one-and-one free throws. Southwestern was 25-for-36 from the free-throw line, but a miserable 18 of 78 from the field.
Pub Date: 1/06/99