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Hubs fall at Liberty

March 03, 2004|by CURT HORNBECKER

ELDERSBURG, Md. - Eight lousy minutes.

All it took for Liberty to bounce North Hagerstown's boys basketball team from the Maryland Class 2A West tournament was eight really lousy minutes.

North suffered through a miserable third period in Tuesday's 76-66 setback in the quarterfinals, scoring just seven points while allowing 23, mostly from layups and short jumpers.

Normally its strength, the Hubs' pressure defense didn't bother the Lions (15-9) in the least.

"Pressure hasn't bothered us all year," said Liberty coach Steve Johnson. "That's one thing we have is a good point guard. Pressure isn't going to hold us."

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It didn't help matters for North (17-6) that the Lions enjoyed a substantial size advantage, and used it to corral numerous offensive boards for easy second chances.

"Teams with size have given us problems all year," said North coach Tim McNamee. "We knew that would be a factor we'd have to overcome, we just didn't do it. We didn't do a good job boxing out."

Foul trouble, however, may have been the Hubs' biggest problem. When North's leading scorer, Bernard Harris, was called for his fourth personal foul with 4:20 left in the third quarter, Liberty held just a 44-41 lead. Through the rest of the period, the Lions went on a 13-5 run to claim a 12-point lead and break the game open.

Harris, inserted to start the fourth period, played only 69 more seconds before fouling out.

Despite his absence, North mounted a rally behind seven points from Quielan Gantt to close the gap to 60-55. But Liberty scored 12 of the next 15 points to secure the win.

Buoyed by Jarrell Rodriguez's 14 points, North managed to keep the Lions at bay in the first half. Harris scored all 14 of his points in the opening half.

Josh Vittek and Andrew Martin gave North fits inside, combining for 40 points, most of which came in the paint.

Meanwhile, the Hubs were unable to get the ball inside consistently, and were forced to rely on long-range shots.

"We haven't had an inside game all year," said McNamee. "We're a perimeter-oriented team. Sometimes you live by (the jump shot), and sometimes you die by them."

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