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Southern Fulton boys fall in playoffs

February 17, 2005|by BILL STERNER/Staff Correspondent

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - There was a good news, bad news scenario when Southern Fulton boys basketball coach Kent Hendershot found out Northern Bedford was the Indians' opponent in the opening round of the PIAA District 5 Class A playoffs.

The good news was that Southern Fulton won its first district title under Hendershot in 2003 in a nail-biting one-point decision over the Panthers.

The bad news was that in the three previous years, Northern Bedford had ended the Indians' season.

Hendershot knew history had a way of repeating itself, but on Wednesday evening, the Indians learned a bitter lesson.

Northern Bedford (15-10) overcame a 12-point lead in a furious third quarter, then held on as a P.J. Hixon 3-pointer bounced high off the rim and out, allowing the Panthers to escape with a 42-40 win before a packed house at Southern Fulton (18-7).

"We had the look and a chance to win, but it just wasn't going to happen," Hendershot said. "(Northern Bedford) had a great third quarter, but we had so many missed opportunities early on."

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The Indians missed several layup attempts during an icy first quarter. Even though Northern Bedford turned the ball over no less than a dozen times, Southern Fulton still struggled inside.

But in a game that saw several controversial calls and the ejection of a fan, the momentum switched sides with the rapidity of a tennis match.

Down 10-9 early in the second quarter, the Indians rallied behind the muscle of power forward Arik Mills and the hustle of Jay Ifert and Jim Barlow to hammer out a 19-12 halftime lead. The Indians throttled the Panthers' offense, holding Northern Bedford to a single basket in the quarter.

Northern Bedford went more than eight minutes bridging the second and third quarters without scoring, and the Indians raced away on a 12-0 run to take a 24-12 lead midway through the third quarter.

But a Shaffron layup sparked the Panthers to an 18-5 run to close out the quarter and put the Indians behind, 30-29.

Northern Bedford pressed Southern Fulton throughout the quarter, cutting off the passing lanes and scoring three rapid-fire buckets off steals.

It was the long-range shooting of the Panthers' Brandon Rodland that put the Indians back on their heels and eventually out for this season. Rodland drained three 3-pointers during the run that erased Southern Fulton's lead.

"Those threes hurt us, no doubt," Hendershot said. "But they played great defense on us also. They made us work and forced us to do some things we didn't want to do."

The Panthers played big down the stretch. Micah Stapleton made a clutch block of a wide open Jay Ifert shot in the lane with less than 20 seconds left.

"Northern Bedford made the plays they had to make to win this game," Hendershot said. "It's bitter medicine for these kids."

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