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Quick start sparks Hubs

February 12, 2004|by TRAVIS KING/Staff Correspondent

North Hagerstown boys basketball coach Tim McNamee realizes his Hubs still need some tweaking in certain areas to be a strong tournament team.

Namely, their inside game.

But it's not like it mattered Wednesday night as No. 5 North used a strong man-to-man defense, jumping to a 21-6 first-quarter lead on its way to a 64-36 trouncing of Smithsburg in an MVAL Antietam showdown.

"We definitely dictated the tempo of the game from the start," McNamee said. "We got lots of turnovers playing a straight up man-to-man defense."

The Hubs (13-4, 8-1) didn't spot the Leopards from the start, as North scored the first 10 points of the game while forcing several Smithsburg turnovers and bad shots.

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Marshall Branch scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half while Bernard Harris had 15 points, five assists and five steals in a game that, while not very spectacular, showed off the Hubs' unselfishness.

"We rotated people in and out. It is tough on players to get into a rhythm that way, but it is a healthy thing to do." McNamee said. "The players are very unselfish and are only worried about how well the team plays."

But while North played selflessly throughout the game, the lack of significant inside scoring or rebounding - no Hub had more than five rebounds - served notice of the need for improvement.

"I'm not disappointed, but we do need to get the ball inside." said McNamee. "We're not an exceptionally big team, but we have people who can leap. When the rebounding and defense go well for us, the team usually does well as a result."

Quielan Gantt scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, for North. The Hubs also converted all 10 of their free throw tries.

McNamee wasn't the only one noticing North's defensive work.

"North is a very good defensive team and we really struggle against teams like that, so the game was over early," said Smithsburg coach Eric Gerber.

The Leopards trailed 40-12 at the half, but were able to play the Hubs even in the final two quarters as each team scored 24 points.

"We competed better in the second half, but the game was out of our hands by then," Gerber said.

The Leopards (3-14, 1-8) were led by Nathan Steelman and Chris Gyurisin with nine points each.

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