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North's team play elemental to an upset

February 04, 2002

North's team play elemental to an upset



By DAN SPEARS
dans@herald-mail.com

North Hagerstown 51
No. 6 Middletown 50

MIDDLETOWN (50)

House 7, Summers 3, Mannis 8, Holian 4, Ridgley 2, Moore 12, Pfau 2, Harshman 2, Costello 10. Totals 24-63 0-4 50.

NORTH HAGERSTOWN (51)

Brown 4, Ennis 13, McGhee 22, Hammond 4, Stamper 7, Schlosser 1. Totals 18-58 13-23 51.

Middletown181688-50

North6111717-51

Three-point goals-Middletown 2 (House, Summers), North 2 (McGhee 2). Fouled Out-Moore, Hammond.



Helen Mency's alchemy experiment had blown up in her face.

The North Hagerstown girls basketball coach watched her team's chemistry - already a fragile thing, at best - melt under the pressure of No. 6 Middletown in the first half of Friday night's game.

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With another disaster looming, Mency didn't do a thing. It worked perfectly.

Down 20 points in the first half and 17 at the break, the Hubs staged a miraculous second-half charge and celebrated a stunning 51-50 upset when the Knights' final shot rolled off the rim at the buzzer.

"This is the chemistry I've waited for all season," Mency said. "We made some unbelievable plays tonight because we worked together."

North (9-7, 6-6) broke a four-game losing streak in the most improbable of ways. Down 34-17 at halftime, the Hubs used an incredibly intense 1-3-1 defense to rattle Middletown's normally reliable guards.

"At half, we said we're not changing anything," Mency said. "They struggled with it at the end of the first half. We told the girls to play it with all the intensity we knew how."

After not turning the ball over at all in the first 11 minutes of the game, the Knights (11-6, 9-4) gave it back a staggering 23 times in the next 18 minutes.

"We recognized the offense we needed to get into, we just couldn't get into it," Middletown assistant coach Allison Eiler said. "We haven't seen a 1-3-1 that often, and never as intense as North was playing it."

The Hubs turned out a 27-8 run in the first 11 minutes of the second half for a 45-42 lead and still led 51-47 with 12 seconds to go, but fouled Middletown guard Jenna House in a 1-and-1 situation.

House missed, and the rebound came out to Dani Summers, who was fouled as her high-arcing 3 banked in with 7 seconds to play.

Summers missed the free throw and the Knights got the rebound. Amber Holian's shot missed, but the loose ball kicked to the opposite side of the basket, where Brynnie Mannis picked it up. Her putback hit the rim twice and came out, and teammate Danielle Costello got the rebound for one final chance.

Costello's final shot sat on the rim at the buzzer and fell out, and the Hubs ran to the far end of the floor and piled on each other in celebration.

McGhee finished with 22 points, while Ennis had 13 points, six assists and three steals. Danielle Costello had 10 points and seven boards for Middletown, but only got one bucket in the second half.

"It was an all-out effort by everyone," Mency said. "And that's what it takes for us to be successful."

North's last four games - all terrible losses to four of the other top teams in the league - were anything but successful. But finding the winning formula at the perfect moment may have saved their once-promising season.

"I was thinking, 'This would be so great, but can we do it?'" Ennis said. "I think this will do the trick."

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