Mount Vernon senior Kelvin Coggins scored 26 points--17 in the first half--to lead the host Majors to a 67-65 victory over Herndon last night in a AAA nondistrict game.

Not only did the senior guard carry the bulk of the scoring load for Mount Vernon (10-4), he also came up with a series of key plays in the final minutes.

First, Coggins sank two crucial free throws to tie the score at 62 with 2 minutes 25 seconds left. He then pulled down a defensive rebound and finished the play with a 10-foot jumper to put his team ahead, 64-62. Coggins then sealed the outcome by hustling back down the floor and swatting away a potential game-tying layup.

Mount Vernon also got 15 points from freshman guard Yemi Fadahunsi.

Herndon, which handed Chantilly its first loss of the season Tuesday, fell to 11-2. The Hornets were led by senior forward Jason Thomas's 17 points and senior point guard Alen Safarian's 14 points.

"Even though it was a nondistrict game, it was big," said Coggins, who is averaging 21 points per game. "Beating them shows people that we are for real. They had just beaten [Chantilly], the best team in Virginia."

Herndon Coach Gary Hall had nothing but praise for Coggins.

"We did a good job on him for most of the second half," Hall said. "But he's a great player.

"He's a man among boys. We have no one who could guard him."

Despite the loss, Herndon has been somewhat of a surprise this season. After the Hornets' starting five all graduated last year after a 23-3 season, many thought the team would struggle.

To contradict that notion, Hall got players warm-ups with the words "Tradition Never Graduates" on the back. Herndon's two losses have come by a combined three points.

Mount Vernon Coach Bryan Hill said: "This does a whole lot for us. My guys' confidence level is going to soar after tonight, after beating such a good team."

Herndon trailed by as many as six points in the fourth quarter and had to scramble to climb back into it. But every time the Hornets did, Coggins brought the Majors right back.

"This was a big win for us because they beat us last year [in the regional quarterfinals at Mount Vernon]," said sophomore guard Ryan Hughes, who scored 10 points despite missing the third quarter with a sore knee. "This was payback."