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Star-struck Knights

December 17, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

It wasn't the 77-57 loss to South Hagerstown that Middletown boys basketball coach Jon Jarrett found hard to swallow Tuesday night.

It was the loss of his best player, senior John Keimig, to an injured right wrist that had Jarrett trying with great difficulty not to break up.

"I'm not so much broken up over losing, but we had a lot of college coaches watching him tonight, and it was hard to watch him go down," an emotional Jarrett said after the game. "He's done so much for this program, it was just hard to take."

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With 1:35 left in the first half and Middletown (3-1) trailing, 31-21, Keimig drove down the left baseline and soared for a layup attempt. He was fouled on the play, lost his balance and tried to break his fall with his hands.

He immediately got back up and rushed over to the Middletown bench, grimacing in obvious pain and holding his wrist. He told Jarrett, "I broke my wrist," then took a seat several feet away from the court, where he was helped by team trainers.

Keimig left the gym at halftime and received treatment at Washington County Hospital.

"If he had been in the game, (the score) would have been closer, because he can really shoot the ball," said South's David Miner. "It's tough to lose a player like that."

Keimig, a Herald-Mail All-Area First Team selection last season, was coming off a 47-point, 12-rebound, 12-steal outing Friday against Boonsboro.

What started out as a matchup between two of the area's best players in Keimig and Miner became a one-man show after the injury. Miner - The Herald-Mail's Player of the Year last season - had 36 points, 11 rebounds, seven steals and six assists, making plays all over the court.

Miner's personal 9-0 run in the second quarter, capped by a steal and two-handed jam that thrilled the crowd, gave the Rebels (2-0) a 25-19 lead they never relinquished.

"The first 3 was kind of awkward," Miner said of his first shot of the night, an off-balance 3-pointer that improbably swished for the first of his five treys in the game. "After that, I let (the game) come to me and played to my potential."

"(Middletown) can run, too," South coach Bob Starkey said. "But they can't run quite as well as we can. They don't have a Miner."

Miner has 990 points in his career, and is likely to pass the 1,000-point barrier Friday when South hosts Fort Hill.

"Miner's a spectacular player," Jarrett said. "I thought Joe (Keimig) did a good job, but nobody can shut him down. He's going to get 20 points - or 30 - no matter who's on him, he's that type of player."

South's big men - 6-foot-8 Jesse Gutekunst, whose off-season workouts have him down to a trimmed 250 pounds, and 6-6 Gene Johnson - worked inside for 10 and 17 points respectively, and they along with Miner were a major reason why the Rebels out-rebounded the Knights, 38-22.

Jonathan Hall had 16 points and Kyle Lear added 11 for Middletown, which fought on bravely after its leader went down.

"I'm so proud of the way our team reacted," Jarrett said. "They fought all the way to the end. We could have lost by 30 or 40, so I'm proud of the effort they put in."

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