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Rockets avoid burnout

December 18, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - There were no "uh-ohs" in the vocabulary of James Buchanan boys basketball coach Larry Strawoet on Friday night. However, an "oh, yes" probably slipped in somewhere.

Responding to every challenge down the stretch, the Rockets fended off cold-shooting Waynesboro 51-46 in an early-season Mid-Penn Capital game.

"In the past, we may have had that 'uh-oh' feeling," Strawoet said. "With these kids, I don't get that."

JB guards Brandon Bryan and Matt Heckman led the way. Bryan, a sophomore, had 14 points and Heckman, a senior, added 11.

Waynesboro (3-3, 1-1) - which played the majority of the first half with center John Long saddled on the bench with two fouls and fell behind 29-22 at halftime - struggled from the perimeter until it was too late and finished 14-for-49 (28.5 percent) from the floor. The Indians were 0-for-14 from 3-point range entering the fourth quarter.

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"I think in the first half with our big man in foul trouble, we lost our post presence. We weren't getting after it much and took a lot of 3-pointers," Waynesboro coach Tom Hoffman said. "You kind of live by the 3 or die by it. Most of the year our shot selection has been good. Tonight, we took the first open shot instead of waiting for a better one."

James Buchanan forward Shane Rife - also a sophomore - had all nine of his points in the first half and the Rockets (4-3, 1-1) took advantage of Long's absence to out-rebound the Indians 18-12 before intermission.

Waynesboro cut the lead to three late in the third quarter on a jumper by Jordan Reitz - who led the Indians with 19 points - and only trailed by four, 36-32, entering the final quarter.

But JB opened the quarter on a 6-0 run on jumpers by Bryan and Heckman and a pair of free throws by Bryan to take a 42-32 lead. After Waynesboro cut it to 42-37 when Scott Livengood finally ended the Indians' 3-point drought with five minutes left, the Rockets responded when sophomore reserve guard Dion Lehman made a steal and tricky layup and Shase Hollenshead drilled a 3-pointer with 2:30 left to make it 47-37.

"There's three sophomores on the floor who are playing a little bit older than what they are," Strawoet said. "These kids understand their roles and do a nice job understanding what the team is all about."

Key baskets by Hollenshead and junior Josh Pickens down the stretch helped offset two deep, desperation 3-pointers by Reitz and secure the victory for JB.

"We gave up 13 offensive rebounds, eight for buckets," Hoffman said. "I hate to say it, but I think JB wanted the game a little more than we did. We really hadn't laid an egg yet, and tonight, I don't mean to take anything away from JB, but we laid one."

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