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Hubs' quick start leads to victory

February 18, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

North Hagerstown wasn't picky about where its goals were coming from at the outset of Tuesday's boys basketball game against Clear Spring.

From the beginning, the Hubs used a quick artillery combination from both sides of the arc and rode the early strikes to a 71-61 MVAL Antietam victory over Clear Spring that kept them one game behind South Hagerstown.

The No. 5 Hubs (15-4, 10-1) hit 3 of 4 from inside the arc and the same from beyond in the first four minutes of the contest to stretch an early 8-6 lead to 16-6.

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Marshall Branch had eight points, including two 3-pointers, and Quielan Gantt had three field goals as North withstood a 10-point first-period barrage from Clear Spring's Alex Tyler, who returned to the lineup after a one-game absence due to knee problems.

North's opening display of shooting (9 of 16 in the quarter) came over Clear Spring's 3-2 and 1-3-1 zone combinations.

Tyler had nine points and was the main cog in getting Clear Spring back within four points with 2:13 to play in the first half before the Hubs went on a 9-0 run - fueled by a pair of Gantt buckets and a three by Branch - to take a 39-28 halftime lead.

"They hit anywhere against either zone and that was because we couldn't get in their face," Clear Spring coach Don Harnish said. "We tried to mix the zones but they have pure shooters."

No. 10 Clear Spring (14-5, 6-5) went to a man defense in the second half, but North coach Tim McNamee countered with Bo Parker defending Tyler in the third period. The high-scoring junior was held scoreless and the Hubs still led, 51-42.

"We put Parker in there to mix it up with Tyler a little," McNamee said. "Clear Spring plays physical and they stayed in the game because they played hard."

Tyler came back with an eight-point fourth period, but the Hubs still extended their lead to 60-46 with 5:20 remaining - their largest of the night - as Gantt and Bernard Harris each knocked down six points.

"I didn't think we played especially well," McNamee said. "We're not a good perimeter team and they broke us down with some turnovers. But we're young out front (Grove and sophomore Jarrell Rodriguez) and we'll get better with them."

Harris and Gantt shared team honors with 18 points each while Branch added 16. Harris also had eight rebounds and five assists for the Hubs. Gantt hit 8 of 16 shots and had four steals.

Tyler finished with 27 points and he yanked down 14 points. He didn't received much first-half support, scoring 19 of the Blazers' 28 points, but Brandon Yost came on to score 11 in the second half.

The tendinitis in Tyler's knees was becoming bothersome near the end of the third period, but he knows it is a situation that he'll have to endure for the remainder of the season.

"I had therapy before the game and they've been a problem really for the last three weeks," Tyler said. "Doctors said rest after the season is over will take of the problem."

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