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Rebels extend Blazers' streak

January 18, 2004|by CURT HORNBECKER

CLEAR SPRING - Despite entering the game winless in nine tries, South Hagerstown's girls basketball team was playing to avoid losing.

The Rebels didn't want to be the team against which Clear Spring snapped its 53-game losing streak. And after the first five minutes of the second half, there was little doubt of that as South notched its first win of the season in a 55-27 thumping of the Blazers Friday night.

Taking a nine-point edge into the third period, South reeled off 12 unanswered points - all but two coming from under the basket - to salt things away. The run came after Clear Spring center Leigh Ann Bearden was forced to sit with four personal fouls,

"(We) really wanted this game, " said Rebels coach Stacy Zeger. "(The girls) said they wanted this game, and they went out and got it. It was determination."

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Spurred by seven Megan Blickenstaff points, the Blazers (0-8) rallied to score eight straight points midway through the third quarter, but South countered with a 5-0 string to end the period with a 41-23 advantage.

South (1-9) had simply too much muscle inside for the Blazers, as Caitlin Nicewarner finished with a double-double - 17 points and 16 rebounds - to spark the attack. So dominant were the Rebels inside that all but two of 14 second half field goals came from inside 10 feet, and South attempted 72 shots from the floor to just 48 for Clear Spring.

As though that weren't enough for the overmatched Blazers, foul trouble didn't help matters.

"That played a big part of the game," said Clear Spring coach Erin Grossnickle. "We had three starters on the bench, and they beat us at the free throw line."

With the Blazers in foul trouble, South turned up the defensive pressure, contributing to Clear Spring's 30 turnovers for the game, and giving the Rebels easy hoops at the other end.

Clear Spring went nearly three scoreless minutes to open the final eight minutes, as the Rebels continued to expand the margin. The Blazers managed just four points in the fourth quarter, unable to mount any semblance of a challenge.

Tawnya Blair kept the Blazers afloat in the first period, scoring five of her 10 points in the quarter, but Sade Williams snapped a 9-9 tie on a fast break bucket with 32 seconds left for the two-point Rebels lead.

Trailing 15-14 three minutes into the second period, Williams and Nicewarner combined for 10 straight points to push the lead to 24-15 at the half.

The result of Clears Spring's foul trouble was numerous opportunities from the line for the Rebels, who converted 12 of 19 in the first half. The Blazers attempted just 12 free throws all night.

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