Erasing an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit, Mervo beat City, 53-52, last night to capture the Class 3A North regional title.
After the Knights routed the Mustangs by 30 points earlier this season, Mervo coach Daryl Wade wasn't hesitant to call his team's victory an upset.
"This is definitely a David and Goliath story," he said.
Trailing 50-39 with four minutes left, the Mustangs went on a 14-2 run, helped by sophomore guard Tyrone Smothers' six points in that stretch. With 31.7 seconds left, Mustangs junior forward Byron Westmoreland hit two free throws to tie the game.
On the following inbounds play, Mervo's Marcus Miller forced a jump ball.
Mervo got possession and called two timeouts in the next 20 seconds. With 5.6 seconds left, Westmoreland was fouled and hit one free throw. William Barton's shot at the buzzer clanked off the rim and sent the Mustangs into a wild celebration while Barton kneeled on the court with his jersey pulled over his head.
Wade's switch from zone to man-to-man was instrumental in holding City to only eight fourth-quarter points, but it was Westmoreland who almost single-handedly kept the Mustangs (18-7) in the game in the first half, and carved up City's defense in the fourth quarter. He finished with 23 points.
"Byron Westmoreland has turned into a heck of a basketball player," Wade said. "He's evolved into a leader on and off the court."
The Knights (20-5) got a big lead in third quarter, led by Barton, who scored 15 of his 20 points during that stretch.
The Mustangs will play River Hill in the 3A state semifinals Thursday at Comcast Center.