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Wednesday, January 28, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mount Vernon Defense Stifles Burlington-Edison -- No. 2 Bulldogs Hold No. 4 Tigers To 34 Points

Times Snohomish County Bureau

BURLINGTON - Mark Campbell made everything difficult.

He contested every pass. He challenged every shot. And, he never let up.

The 6-foot-2 junior guard on the Mount Vernon High School boys basketball team was everywhere Nick Johnson went. And in the end, Campbell held Johnson, the state's sixth-leading Class 3A scorer, to a season-low 10 points as the second-ranked Bulldogs beat fourth-ranked and previously unbeaten Burlington-Edison 53-34 in a Northwest 3A League game last night before an overflow crowd.

Mount Vernon, which hasn't lost since Dec. 2, won its 13th straight game and improved to 6-0 in league and 13-1 overall. The Tigers, who were shooting 45 percent from the field but hit only 27 percent last night, fell to 5-1, 13-1.

Campbell knew a victory would give Mount Vernon, last season's Class AAA state runner-up, sole possession of first place, and accepted the responsibility of defending Johnson, who averaged 21.2 points before last night.

"He's mentally a type of guard that if he misses a few shots, he's not going to quit shooting," Campbell said. "But I didn't want him to get a rhythm."

Johnson didn't. He made one of five shots in the first quarter and took only 10 in the game after suffering early foul trouble. Johnson, whose season-high was 36 points, finished with 10 after sinking two shots late in the fourth quarter as Mount Vernon starters watched from the bench.

"Mark played great on Johnson," Bulldog Coach Mac Fraser said. "He's a smart defender. He's got a willingness to play defense and the intelligence to figure out where the guy is at."

Junior Bryan Whitehead (13 points), junior Josh Maricich (13) and senior Scott Collins (10) led the Bulldogs offensively.

Whitehead, a 6-9 forward, also had eight rebounds and four blocks, but Maricich provided the biggest spark, coming off the bench to make up for senior Grant Leep's quiet night.

The University of Washington-bound 6-7 forward, averaging 19.5 points, scored a career-low three points and failed to make a field goal in a game for the first time in his high-school career.

After trading leads several times early in the game, Mount Vernon took the lead for good with less than four minutes left in the first quarter. The Bulldogs finished the period with a 10-2 run, and then charged to a 22-11 lead midway through the second as the Tigers went scoreless for seven minutes, 25 seconds.

The reason for Burlington-Edison's dry spell was twofold. Johnson sat out most of the second quarter after picking up his second foul with 1:40 left in the first. With their top scorer and ballhandler on the bench, the Tigers fell out of sync and trailed 31-15 at halftime.

Things weren't much better after the break as the game turned into a blowout. The teams combined for only 13 points in the third qurter, each making less than one-quarter of its shots. Johnson committed his third and fourth fouls 23 seconds apart midway through the period.

Leading 39-22 early in the final quarter, Collins and Jordan Bell each sank three-pointers to seal the victory.

The Bulldogs, who shot 39 percent from the field, led by as many as 26 points early in the fourth.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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