Mount Vernon has reached the final of its annual boys basketball Christmas tournament in each of the 13 years since its inception. But the Majors have had to settle for the runner-up trophy the last four years.

Last night, they ran their way back into the champions' circle, building a 22-point second-period lead en route to a 96-84 triumph over Mackin in the title game at Mount Vernon.

Mackin (3-4) jumped out to a 7-4 lead before everything turned sour for the Metro Conference team. The Trojans, who prefer an up-tempo game, ran into a deep hole as they scored only four baskets on 23 possessions during an eight-minute span.

While Mackin was committing turnovers and missing shots, the hot Majors were running off bunches of unanswered points.

Majors' point guard Barry Smith, voted tournament MVP, scored seven of his 28 points and handed out four assists, David Taylor (19 points, 11 rebounds) had 10 points and Lorenzo Bryant (18 points, nine rebounds) scored in 11 points during a run that took Mount Vernon from a three-point deficit to a commanding 37-15 advantage with seven minutes to play before intermission.

Mackin, despite an overwhelming height advantage, allowed the hosts to get inside for numerous offensive rebounds (17 of its 35 rebounds were offensive), many of which were turned into points. Mount Vernon (8-0) also took advantage of Mackin's lapses on defense to score a number of uncontested fast break layups. Mount Vernon led, 48-34, at the half.

"We decided to just play our regular gamm and run," said Mount Vernon Coach Don McCool. "We came out, attacked their press and got easy shots. And we hit everything we threw up."

Led by guard Curt Smith (20 points) and Bryan Hill (21), Mackin rallied in the third period. Hill had nine points and Smith seven as Mackin cut the lead to nine on several occasions.

After a three-point play by Hill made it 68-57 Barry Smith sank a jumper and two free throws as Mount Vernon led, 72-59, after three periods.

Mackin had nothing left in the last quarter. After a tipin by Michael Smith closed Mackin to 11, 72-61, the Majors starting running again. Barry Smith had a jumper and two free throws, Norrin Braxton a layup after a nice pass from Smith and Bryant hit a long jumper to cap an 8-0 run that sent Mount Vernon out to a 80-61 lead with six minutes to play.

"We built that early lead and maintained it," said McCool. "They put out a lot of energy {in the third period} to get back. We thought we'd run out of gas because they had more bench than we did. We played very well in that second period."