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Rodriguez remembers grandma, leads Hubs

March 02, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Jarell Rodriguez knows his grandmother is gone. Now, he's doing his best to make sure that she won't be forgotten.

Rodriguez's shooting touch joined his grandmother on Tuesday. He was feeling them both.

The North Hagerstown point guard played one of his best games of the year by scoring 19 points while maneuvering the offense through Century's zone in the Hubs' 72-62 victory in the Maryland Class 2A West quarterfinals.

"I felt I could shoot anything tonight," Rodriguez said. "Someone had to step up today. Quielan (Gantt) wasn't having a great shooting game. I haven't been shooting much all year, but when I hit that shot at the end of the South game, that gave me a lot of confidence."

Rodriguez's scoring and passing helped the Hubs (19-4) mount a decisive 11-0 run to open the fourth quarter to turn a 48-45 advantage into a healthy 59-45 lead with 5 minutes remaining.

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The senior dished a pair of assists and added a tough, conventional three-point play to help move North out of danger while making sure the game remained a personal family tribute.

"Against South, it was my grandmother's birthday. She had died in May," Rodriguez said. "My aunt and the rest of my family have been here for both of the last two games, so I wanted to play well for them, but especially for my grandmother."

The tribute started on Feb. 23 when Rodriguez hit the decisive shot with 12 seconds remaining to give the Hubs a 68-66 win over South. On Tuesday, he widened his game to control the offense, but it was an equally important role in an equally tight situation against Century.

"If you are going to do it, that's the time to do it," North coach Tim McNamee said. "(Century) is not a bad team. They shoot the ball well.

"Rodriguez played a solid game. He penetrated well and did the things a point guard has to do. ... He broke them down."

Century pushed North for much of the game. The Knights showed the ability to get inside of the Hubs' defense to score a number of easy baskets. North led 35-32 at the half, but Century stayed close by scoring 22 points on layups - 14 off fast breaks.

In the second half, the Hubs began contesting shots but couldn't shake the Knights until the final minute of the third quarter. Rodriguez hit a 3-pointer with :54 left in the period to break a 43-43 tie. After Ryan Dantoni brought Century to within one, Colby Thompson hit an 8-footer right before the buzzer to secure North's 48-45 lead.

The Hubs came out of the break to unload the 11-point Sunday punch to all but turn out the Knights. Century got back to within 61-54, but Rodriguez hit four straight foul shots give the Hubs a 65-54 lead they were able to protect over the final 2:36 for the victory.

The win allows the Hubs to host tonight's Class 2A West semifinal game against Middletown, a 59-52 winner over Rockville.

With Gantt and Dee Mency not having their typical nights, Rodriguez teamed with Thompson and Tyrell Wilson to pick up the slack. Thompson scored his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Wilson added 14 points.

That offset the 19 points that Dantoni scored for Century while Bennett Foelber added 16.

"Some of our players have to have better games, but the other guys have been there to pick them up," McNamee said. "That's been the way it's been all season. We haven't had to rely on one player all the time."

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