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Rebels come up empty when it counts

December 07, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

South Hagerstown couldn't quite close the deal against Century on Tuesday night in the boys basketball season opener at South, but the 83-72 loss to the Knights isn't going to hinder the Rebels' outlook after one game.

The Rebels were executing and hustling for 28 minutes and didn't quit until the very end, despite going scoreless in the final four minutes after holding a 72-71 lead with 3:42 to play.

Five missed shots and three turnovers down the stretch were the undoing of the Rebels, who fought back from a 12-point deficit in the second quarter to take a 66-58 lead late in the third period.

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"We want to get out and run with the basketball, but at the end of the game you need to be able to slow it down and run your offense," said second-year South coach Dennis Seman, "and that's what we'll learn as the season goes on."

South shot 62 percent (29 of 47) through the first three periods, including a torrid 27-point third quarter, which included nine points from Muzammil Bhutto and seven from Dominique Byrd in the period, but the accuracy faded in the final eight minutes as Century's Bennett Foelber scored 12 of his team-high 25 points to bring back the Knights.

Two free throws by Byrd turned out to be the final points of the night for South. Chuck Andrews had a pair of successful free throws to give Century a 73-72 lead and the Knights used eight more free throws and one field goal to wrap up the game.

"I'm surprised we shot as well as we did," said Seman, whose team suffered through 18 losses in 2004-05, averaging only 48 points per game. "To score 72 points is a big improvement. We want to average between 55 and 60 this year. These kids can be athletes."

The Rebels ended hitting 30 of 59 shots for 51 percent. Century hit an even 50 percent on 56 shots.

Byrd and Bhutto combined for 47 of South's points. Byrd finished with a game-high 28 points, fashioned on 11 of 27 shooting from the floor, including three 3-pointers.

"Last year we had too many guys being big wheels and there was too much arguing," said Byrd. "This year, we are going to play as a team. This was a good first game. The loss won't change our attitude."

Seman concurred with Byrd's outlook, noting a 360-degree turnaround in attitude in camp this year.

"We don't talk about last year," Seman said. "My system will produce with these kids because they work hard. As a team, though, we'll have to recognize everyone on the floor, especially when we slow it down late in the game."

When the numbers were crunched, Century had a big margin at the stripe, hitting 22 of 29 compared to 7 of 12 for the Rebels. The Knights hit 12 of 14 in the final period.

Alvin Robertson had eight rebounds for South and Byrd had seven.

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