Unruffled by the presence of high-profile teammates Ernest Graham and John Duren, Bernard (Ducky) Vaughn came off the bench to score 28 points and lead the Trotters to a 109-101 victory over Baltimore's Bentalou Lakers in the championship of the ninth Big M Tournament of Champions last night at Suitland High School.
A DuVal High School legend (1972-1974), former Maryland state scoring champion and once terror of the Landover hardcourts, the 5-foot-9 Vaughn is now a 24-year-old hoping for a shot at the pros.
"I'm a competitor," he said. "In basketball, you leave your press clips home and bring your game to the floor."
Vaughn's long arching jumpers fell so cleanly they barely ruffled the net. "I'm just looking for a chance," said Vaughn, the tournament MVP, "but I'm doing everything by myself. I don't have an agent or anything."
Vaughn was all-Ivy League for Cornell three years in a row. He tried out for the Boston Celtics but was cut. "They decided to keep Dave Bing."
Ex-Maryland player Graham, after a shaky first half, wound up with 16 points, 10 of them in the last nine minutes. He was, as expected, spectacular at times and sloppy at others.
"I like playing here a whole lot better than the ACC," he said. "You're not under a microscope here. There's not a lot of court politics. And the people cheer good plays no matter who makes them."
With three minutes remaining, Graham took momentary control, scoring on a driving one-handed layup and, seconds later, hitting a soft one-handed jumper from 10 feet out. Then he made the play of the game. Taking a pass from Vaughn, Graham drove the middle unopposed for a two-hand dunk that ended any chance of Bentalou staying in the game.