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Fast start lifts Hubs

January 06, 2003|by CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

Don't think for a minute Tim McNamee didn't sweat.

True, his No. 6 North Hagerstown boys basketball team enjoyed a double-digit lead for all but the first three minutes of its game against No. 7 Boonsboro, and held an 18-point advantage at the intermission, but Warriors coach Chuck Ingram had no trouble finding a silver lining.

While Boonsboro suffered a 71-56 Monocacy Valley Athletic League loss to the Hubs Friday night, Ingram was quick to recognize that his club outscored North by two points in the final three periods.

"We can't put a team like this 18 points up," said Ingram. "Still, we feel real positive about it. We didn't execute very well, and we didn't play very good defense, but I think the kids know that they can beat these guys."

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Boonsboro had trouble containing the Hubs' point guard Purnell Spruce in the first period as the North senior was directly involved in the game's first 10 points, drilling a 3-pointer and dishing out three assists in the first three minutes. Spruce tied his own single-game school record with 17 assists, a mark he set less than three weeks ago.

"I felt real comfortable from the start," said the North senior. "We got a little tired after the first period, and we didn't run the floor as well, and they dropped back in a zone to slow the tempo down. But I don't really care about the assists just as long as we win the game."

A Quielan Gantt three-point play staked North to a 39-19 lead early in the third quarter, but Boonsboro had no intention of throwing in the towel. Lonnell Smith scored the first eight points in a 10-0 Warriors run that closed the deficit to 10.

North's Cole Bellon managed to stave off the run with a pair of buckets - including a thunderous fast-break slam - that turned the momentum back to the Hubs.

In the second and third periods, the Warriors held North's high-powered offense to just 21 points, before the Hubs exploded for 26 in the final eight minutes.

After stretching the lead back to 19 points midway through the fourth quarter, North watched Smith go back to work, sparking a 14-6 run to trim the margin to 60-49. But Spruce handed out four assists in less than two minutes to keep the Warriors at bay.

"He makes us go offensively and defensively," said McNamee of Spruce, who also had six steals and six points in the game. "But Bellon had a big game, too. If those two guys are going good, it takes a lot of pressure off of (Bernard) Harris and (Marshall) Branch."

While Smith's 26-point effort - and 10 points from Travis Itnyre - paced Boonsboro, Harris, Bellon and Gantt led the Hubs with 16, 14 and 11 points respectively.

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