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Knights shop right for comeback win

February 08, 2000

Knights shop right for comeback win: Middletown rides hot inside game past South

Middletown over SouthBy DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




Middletown boys basketball coach Tim Leber calls forwards D.J. Costello and Sam Williams the bread and butter of his team.

Tuesday night, he got the economy-size version of both, as the duo combined for 55 points - including 25 of their team's final 28 points - as the Knights rallied for a thrilling 68-66 victory over South Hagerstown in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

cont. from sports page

"We have to go into those guys," Leber said. "We have to run the offense for them."

The Knights (9-7, 7-6) trailed 31-20 at halftime after blowing layup upon layup, but decided to keep all their eggs in the same basket - er, bucket.

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"We just needed to calm down and get into the flow of our offense," said Williams, who finished with 29 points. "We were rushing things and we weren't doing very much."

"We just said, 'Hey, we're going to go back in there, and you're going to make those shots this time,'" Leber said.

They listened. Costello scored 10 of Middletown's first 12 in the second half, all on layups and free throws.

"I told those guys yesterday that if we don't play better interior defense, that we're gonna get beat," South coach Bob Starkey said. "And we did. "

The Knights trailed 52-45 with five minutes to play, but what happened next could only be described as perfection.

The two teams matched baskets for 13 straight possessions, and Middletown still trailed 62-57 on Williams' jumper with 2 minutes left.

"Somebody needed to put a stopper in there, and we did it to ourselves," Starkey said.

Trailing 65-64 with 41 seconds to play, Darin Gordon stripped Domonique Richmond near midcourt, dived for the ball and flipped it into the hands of Williams, who scored for a 66-65 lead with 17 seconds to play.

"Gordon's dive play - that just gave me goosebumps," Leber said. "When our guys get down on the floor and grind it out ... that's what I think won this game for us."

After a Lee miss and two Costello free throws, Middletown fouled Richmond with four seconds left and he made the front end for a two-point game. Richmond missed the second on purpose - and the Rebels' set play worked - but Alberto Valentin's putback came up short.

It was one of the very few misses in the second half. Middletown scored on its last 12 possessions of the game - and went 20-for-26 (77 percent) from the field in the second half. South (7-10, 6-8) was 10-for-15 in the fourth quarter.

"We knew we were going to have to play hard," said Costello, who finished with 26 points. "South just came off a huge win over Brunswick. We knew they'd be tough. We just really came together tonight."

For South, however, it took some of the luster away from their huge turnaround down the stretch.

"The way we did it hurts. We didn't miss a shot, we turned the ball over," Starkey said. "Coming off a big win, playing as well offensively as we were, and then to have it snuffed away at the end, you're darned right that hurts."

Middletown 68, South 66




MIDDLETOWN (68)

Main 2, Moore 7, Gordon 2, Costello 26, Williams 29, Dempsey 2. Totals 29-54 9-12 68.

SOUTH HAGERSTOWN (66)

Valentin 10, Fowler 3, Richmond 12, Jeter 4, Lee 21, Jackson 4, Creek 2, Suttle 2, Maas 8. Totals 30-61 4-10 66.

Middletown 8 12 23 25 - 68

South 17 14 13 22 - 66

Three-point goals - Middletown 1 (Moore), South 2 (Fowler, Richmond).

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