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Rebels scrap past Wildcats

January 20, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSPORT - Friday's South Hagerstown-Williamsport boys basketball game was a physical encounter filled with floor burns, flying elbows, a scalp laceration and nose-to-nose defense - definitely not recommended viewing for the weak of heart.

At a glance, the Rebels' 54-46 Monocacy Valley Athletic League win might have appeared to be a sloppy, ugly game.

In some ways, it was.

But in reality, the Rebels used their superior quickness and an uncanny ability to adjust to finally wear down the Wildcats.

"We can count on (Williamsport) coming out and playing us in this fashion every time," South coach Bob Starkey said. "They are a physical bunch that will come after you.

"But I thought that tonight, we adjusted to that game and played the style we had to play to win. And make no mistake about it, this is a big win for us."

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Indeed.

No. 8 South (7-3, 4-3) opened the contest in the fashion that has become synonomous with the Rebels over the last several years. Ben Mertz, Jamel Smith and David Miner ran the legs off the Wildcats as they used their own style of frenetic offense to open an early 10-point lead.

Williamsport (3-6, 1-5) had its own plan in mind to slow the Rebels, using John Hose and Ryan Martin to neutralize South's 6-foot-7 center, Jesse Gutekunst.

The Wildcats clawed their way back into the game behind the shooting of Nick Adenhart, Ben Jordan and Josh Foley.

The Rebels helped out by not recording a field goal in the second quarter and hitting just seven free throws, which allowed Williamsport to pull within three points at halftime, 26-23.

Williamsport was forcing the Rebels into its own style, one where layups in the paint ruled the day and an occassional body hit the floor.

"We were coming off the North game, and we knew Williamsport would be ready," Starkey said. "They really forced us to play a different type of game than we are used to. If we don't adjust, things are different."

The Rebels did adjust, starting with a Miner-led rally at the six-minute mark of the third quarter. With South leading 32-25, Miner reeled off a pair of free throws, three layups and a 3-pointer to put the Rebels up 41-32 with just under 30 seconds left. Miner finished with a team-high 20 points.

"David took it upon himself to rally us, and he did it playing good defense," Starkey said.

"We got down for a little bit," Miner said. "But once we got out and ran a little on them, I think we refocused."

Adenhart scored four of his game-high 21 points to bring the Wildcats within seven, but the weary 'Cats had trouble finding their range in the fourth quarter.

"I am not faulting their effort. It was certainly there," Williamsport coach Deron Crawford said. "But the same thing that has plagued us all year got us tonight, the lack of being able to hit shots.

"We missed some foul shots and turned the ball over in a critical stretch. All that stuff doesn't add up to anything good."

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