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Knights beat buzzer to black out Hubs

March 03, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER /Staff Correspondent

North Hagerstown executed its final defensive strategy to perfection against Middletown in a Maryland Class 2A West semifinal Thusday night.

If there was a problem, it was that it was too perfect.

With 11 seconds left and Middletown with the ball, North set up its trap defense to prevent the Knights from a clean look at the basket. The Hubs succeeded in contesting the shot, but Middletown employed its size on the inside for two offensive rebounds, the second of which fell into the hands of senior Patrick Carney, who put it back at the buzzer to give the Knights the 56-54 victory.

The Knights advance to the region final on Saturday to take on Winters Mill, which beat Walkersville, 72-58.

"We got what we wanted. We went to our trap to keep them from getting a good look," said North coach Tim McNamee. "The thing is, our trap isn't good for rebounding. After they missed, we had to match up with them."

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Matching up with Middletown is a tough task for the Hubs. The 6-foot-6 Carney has at least three inches on every North starter. The size advantage proved to be the difference at the end, as Carney drained what he described as the greatest basket of his life.

"I got my hands on it twice and when I got it the second time, I knew there could've only been one or two seconds left on the clock," said Carney, who finished with a team-high 19 points. "I managed to get form a little bit and I just let it go. I didn't see it go in, but I knew it was going straight.

"I saw Coach (Jon Jarrett) jumping up and down on the sideline and I was just ecstatic."

That wasn't exactly how Jarrett drew up the game-winning play, but the result went just as planned.

"We ran a play for Patrick and he initially missed it," Jarrett said. "It was all him after that. As the coach I can draw up a play, but it's up to the players to execute it. It's not anything I did."

Middletown had the benefit of taking the last shot of the game, but the Hubs had a chance to end it on their own terms. Dee Mency was called for an offensive foul with 32 seconds left, which put Alex Carr on the free throw line for a 1-and-1 opportunity. Carr missed the front end and North's Richard Baymon got the long rebound, but his pass to Tyrell Wilson got loose and bounced off the bottom of the backboard.

The turnover was just the sixth of the game for the Hubs, but it gave the ball back to the Knights, who held it until calling time with 11 seconds left.

"All we wanted to do was not turn the ball over, get the clock down to about 10 and call a timeout," Jarrett said.

While Middletown hit five buckets in the first quarter, North was held without a field goal.

The Hubs remained in the game thanks to their foul shooting - 6-for-6 - and trailed, 10-6.

Back-to-back 3s by Baymon and Greg Hamms to open the second quarter stopped the drought and gave North a 12-10 lead. Four straight points by Mency and a fast-break bucket by Jarell Rodriguez gave the Hubs an 18-10 lead. Another basket by Baymon upped the Hubs' lead to 25-15, but Middletown's Paul Crone answered with a long 3 at the buzzer to close the gap to seven points.

"That was a momentum changer," McNamee said. "We could have been up 10 going into halftime and they hit the long 3."

If Crone's 3 didn't change the momentum, the Knights' 16-5 run to open the third quarter did. Carney had seven points and an assist in the run that gave Middletown a 34-30 lead - its first since the first quarter.

Five points each from Mency and Rodriguez and two by Wilson gave the lead back to the Hubs at 42-39, but Carney got possession of a loose ball and cashed in - again at the buzzer - to close the gap to one with eight minutes left.

"Those are backbreakers. Well, the last one was the backbreaker," McNamee said.

Three ties and three lead changes highlighted the back-and-forth fourth quarter. The Hubs lost the lead early, but a Mency 3 with two minutes left gave the Hubs a 54-51 lead. Those would be the last points for the Hubs.

Crone tied the game at 54-54 at the 1:46 mark with a basket and free throw. Crone had 15 points and Tyler Ausherman added 11 for the Knights.

Dee Mency had 23 points and Greg Hamms had 11 for North. Jarell Rodriguez added 11 points in his final game for the Hubs.

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