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South's Miner uses adjustments to overhaul Hubs

February 25, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

South Hagerstown star David Miner, saddled with three quick fouls, spent 11 minutes of the first half on the bench contemplating the second half of what could be his final game against rival North Hagerstown.

When it came time to turn thoughts into actions, Miner did what he's done so often in a remarkable senior season - he stole the show.

Miner scored 34 points in the second half to finish with 41 and the No. 1 Rebels pulled away from the No. 4 Hubs for an 83-68 victory in front of a sold-out home crowd, clinching the MVAL Antietam championship.

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"It's probably the best half I've ever played in my life," Miner said. "I knew I had to pick it up since I let the team down in the first half."

"He's had as big an impact on his club as any player I've seen," North coach Tim McNamee said.

Early on, the Rebels (19-2, 13-0) had to adjust to life without Miner, who picked up three reaching fouls and had to go to the bench at the 2:54 mark of the first quarter with South leading, 17-8.

North (17-5, 12-2) quickly went on a 7-0 run to end the quarter to close within two, highlighted by Bernard Harris' 25-foot 3-pointer to beat the buzzer.

But what seemed like a golden opportunity for the Hubs became a struggle in the first four minutes of the second quarter as South came together for a 10-0 run to take a 12-point lead. Gene Johnson put the Rebels on his shoulders, scoring nine of the Rebels' 14 points in the quarter.

"That was mostly our second-string players, so we had to find a rhythm and we kept it together," Johnson said. "It was tougher to get in a rhythm, but they got me the ball and I elevated my game."

"He's getting better every game," Starkey said. "He takes what he gets and never moans and groans. He's a team player."

North countered with a 12-2 run - with sophomore Jarrell Rodriguez scoring eight of his 15 in the run - to cut the lead back to two.

South entered halftime up 31-27 and the Hubs were aware an opportunity had passed after making just 10 of 27 shots (37 percent) in the half.

"We didn't play well enough to win, and it didn't matter who was in the game," McNamee said. "To beat that club, you have to play very well, and we didn't play very well. ... We couldn't knock down a shot, and that hurt. They're so big in there, you have to shoot well and we didn't. You have to take advantage of every opportunity you have on the court."

Once Miner got back on the floor to start the second half, it was clear he had something to prove. He started with a driving basket, then scored his next nine points on three 3s, two with a defender right in his face. After an offensive putback and a steal and breakaway slam for two more baskets, Miner ended the quarter running at full speed down the court for a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give South a 61-49 lead.

"I told the team I was going to take over," Miner said. "I hit a couple big 3s and it was my time to go. I just let it all out like it was the last game of the season. My legs were fresh from sitting."

"He's a highlight film when he gets going," Starkey said.

Miner added 16 more points in the fourth as the Rebels salted the game away. Johnson finished with 21 points for South.

Marshall Branch led the Hubs with 19 points, Bernard Harris had 16 and Quielan Gantt added 13.

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