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North comes back to beat Middletown

March 04, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - The North Hagerstown basketball team could have panicked. The Hubs probably should have panicked, too, trailing upstart Middletown by eight points with two minutes to play in Saturday night's Class 2A West final.

They didn't.

North forced four turnovers in the final two minutes of regulation and survived a missed free throw with 5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, then took control for a 65-59 victory and a trip to Cole Field House next week in the state semifinals.

North (22-3) will play the winner from the East region at 7 p.m. Friday.

"We've done this in practice," North forward Tavis Green said. "We've put in that situation in practice, and since we've done it so much, we knew exactly what to do."

While North waited until the last two minutes to follow its gameplan, the third-seeded Knights (17-8) read their script to perfection for the first 30 minutes. Middletown played patient on offense and defended in a 3-2 zone that cut off most of the penetration by North's speedy guards to go up 52-44 with 2:03 to play.

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"We didn't have to do a whole lot to get them up," said Middletown coach John Jarrett, whose team lost to North by 31 and 18 points in the regular season. "We came in with a better gameplan with the zone and showed we can play with them.

"We really shouldn't have lost the game."

They just didn't count on North's refusal to quit. The Hubs pulled within two on Scott Rice's reverse with 33.9 seconds to play - the guard's first field goal of the game. Saddled with foul trouble and a jumper that wouldn't follow directions, Rice went 0-for-8 from the field until that point and missed almost nine minutes of the second half with four fouls.

"I was mad about (sitting)," said Rice, who leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. "If we would have lost it all would have come back on me. ... But when you watch, you think more as a coach, see all those things you can't see on the floor."

Middletown's John Keimig made two free throws for a 54-50 game, but Rice found Bernard Harris underneath for a layup and North called time. Out of the timeout, Middletown's Pete Colwell got the ball, ran right into Rice and coughed it up. Rice easily laid it in for the tie, but Colwell got another chance when he was fouled by Harris almost 70 feet from the basket.

But Colwell - an 87 percent shooter in the regular season and already 9-for-9 at the line on the night - missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

"Things got a little rough in the last two minutes, and they're a quicker and more athletic team," Jarrett said. "That hurt us."

North didn't get off a shot before the buzzer, but it didn't matter in the extra session because of Green. The senior forward had kept it in the game while Rice sat, and his runner with 3:04 left in overtime gave North the lead for good at 58-56.

"We forgot the past at that point," said Green, who scored seven of his game-high 27 points in the extra session. "Overtime was a whole new game, and we played our way then."

Twice Middletown got within one, twice North came up with a huge play. With a 58-57 lead, Green stole the ball at midcourt and got a layup. Then up 60-59, North's Clif Carey missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Rice slapped the rebound to Harris at midcourt. Given another chance, Carey made two more free throws for a three-point lead.

Middletown had one last chance to tie with 23.9 seconds left, but Green again stole the ball at midcourt and dunked for a 64-59 lead that sealed North's first trip to Cole Field House since 1989.

"For four quarters we gave it everything we had," Jarrett said. "The guys played harder than I ever could have asked them today. But in overtime, we were out of gas."

Keimig and Colwell both had 15 points, while Brooks Moser finished with nine points and 17 rebounds for Middletown.

After making just 18 of its first 64 shots (33 percent), North hit seven of its last eight to win the game. Rice and Harris both had 10 points, Eugene Taylor had 11 and Green finished with 12 boards.

And somehow, North got out with a win.

"Before we left, we looked at the chalkboard in the locker room," North coach Tim McNamee said. "It says, 'Find a way.' I'm still not sure how, but we did it tonight."

North Hagerstown 65, Middletown 59


NORTH HAGERSTOWN (65)

Rice 10, Harris 10, Taylor 11, Carey 6, Green 26, Branch 2. Totals 25-72 12-16 65.

MIDDLETOWN (59)

J. Keimig 15, Colwell 15, O'Leary 6, Brandenburg 10, Moser 9, DeMoss 2. Totals 19-52 18-23 59.

North813171611-65

Middletown111214175-59

Three-point goals-North 3 (Taylor 3), Middletown 3 (J. Keimig 2, O'Leary).

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