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Tater heats up as Hubs win

March 01, 2000

North over LibertyBy MARK KELLER / Sports Editor

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




Tater Russ and North Hagerstown boys basketball coach Tim McNamee have an understanding.

"He has the green light," McNamee said of his leading scorer. "If he takes a bad shot, I'll tell him it's a bad shot. If he takes a good shot and misses, I won't say a word other than to keep shooting."

cont. from sports page

After a cold first half on Tuesday, Russ took his coach's advice to keep shooting and ripped the nets for 22 second-half points to lead the Hubs to a 73-62 win over Liberty in the Class 3A West quarterfinals at North.

"He warmed up a little bit, got a couple of better looks in the second half because I think we executed a little better in our halfcourt offense," McNamee said. "That got him some open shots, and once he hit the first one he was in pretty good shape."

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Russ led all scorers with 26 points and set a school record for 3-pointers in a season (39) with three on Tuesday night.

Scott Rice had 14 points, eight rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots for the Hubs (19-4), who travel to Paint Branch for a semifinal game on Thursday. Nate Naylor had 11 points and nine rebounds and Jason Ott had 10 points and nine rebounds.

North led 32-22 at halftime, but the Lions (10-12) used a 7-0 run midway through the third quarter to pull within three, 38-35.

The Hubs answered with an 11-0 run of their own, sparked by a three-point play from Eddie Crivari and three drives to the basket by Russ as North pulled away, 49-35.

"My coaches told me at halftime, 'When you get the ball, go to the bucket, hit a layup,'" Russ said. "After I did that, I stepped back and got the 3s and it started from there."

But North was never able to put Liberty away. Consecutive three-point plays by Jason Bright and Marc Falcone and a put back by Tom Warner pulled the Lions back within six near the end of the period.

Liberty kept the deficit below double digits until Russ hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give North a 12-point cushion with four minutes left in the game.

"It always seemed like they were closer than they really were," Russ said. "They played some really good defense. The big man (Falcone) played a real good game. I thought they were a lot closer."

Falcone led the Lions with 22 points. Robbie Ruch had 18 points and Bright added 10.

"I expected a tough game from them," McNamee said. "We knew they were physical, we knew they could pound the ball inside, we knew they could rebound well and that's how they stayed in the ballgame."

N. Hagerstown 73, Liberty 62




LIBERTY (62)

Warner 4, Bowers 5, Bright 10, Steinacker 1, Falcone 22, Coleman 2, Ruch 18. Totals 25 11-16 62.

NORTH HAGERSTOWN (73)

Rice 14, Naylor 11, Russ 26, Medley 9, Crivari 3, Ott 10. Totals 29 11-16 73.

Liberty 16 6 21 19 - 62

North 21 11 19 22 - 73

Three-point goals - Liberty 1 (Bright), North Hagerstown 4 (Rice, Russ 3). Technical foul - Rice.

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