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Hubs girls miss 2-minute warning, get burned

December 13, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

It's one of basketball's unwritten rules: Teams play 32 minutes for the paying customers, but only two for their coaches.

The first 30 minutes are often used for positioning to have a chance to win in the final 120 seconds.

The North Hagerstown girls basketball team won the first half-hour of its game with Thomas Johnson on Tuesday. The Patriots won the two that mattered most for a 56-53 victory.

Thomas Johnson (3-0) took control with a 6-1 run in the final stretch to come back and knock off the upstart Hubs (2-1).

North was in position to pull off the upset over the Patriots, but couldn't convert on inside shots on two critical trips down the floor that could have put the game out of reach.

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"It comes down to the last two minutes," North coach Barry Brown said. "If any one of those shots would have gone down, we would have won. I loved the team effort, we had some problems with our execution."

The Hubs shadowed TJ most of the game. North was able to control the Patriots' Kem Wilson - who has committed to play at Wake Forest next season - holding her to 10 hard-earned points.

The Hubs used patience and precision against TJ's 2-3 and 3-2 zone sets to get open shots around the basket for a 46-38 lead with 7:30 remaining.

But in the end, when time dwindled, so did the Hubs' shooting percentage as TJ's experience began to win out.

"We noticed that they were having trouble hitting their inside shots and we tried to rush them a little more," said Thomas Johnson coach Bonnie Robinson. "We have a lot of seniors on this team and we tried to think the game through at the end.

"That is the best I've seen North Hagerstown play. They've come a long way and their coaches are doing a great job. Our shooting was off today, but our defense was good and we thought well at the end of the game."

The Hubs lost their glass slipper when the clock struck 2:00.

North still maintained a 52-50 lead at that point and boosted it to a three-point advantage on a Shawayna Morel foul shot with 1:32 remaining.

It was the last time North scored.

Ashleigh Fossett hit a pair of foul shots with 1:21 remaining to bring TJ within a point before Adrienne Donalson hit an 8-footer in the lane at the :45 mark for a 54-53 lead. Stephanie Nara hit a pair of free throws with :18.5 left to ice the game.

In the last 45 seconds, North stormed the basket, getting six shots and four rebounds in the final two possessions. A lid fell firmly over the rim, sealing the loss.

"We want to be patient in the halfcourt offense," Brown said. "We practice it, but there are some things you can control and some things you can't. It came down to situational basketball in the last two minutes and we didn't do well. I'll take the blame for that, but we'll be ready the next time."

North yo-yoed from behind to even with TJ on three occasions before finally taking a 37-36 lead on Valentina Wheeler's three-point play with 3:36 to go in the third quarter. Kirkston Mitchell scored six of North's next eight points to build the 46-38 lead before the Patriots went on an 18-7 tear to close out the game.

Donalson led TJ with 18 points while Wilson had eight of her 10 in the fourth quarter against the defense of North's Cara Thompson.

Mitchell had 14 points and Wheeler had 10 to give North a shot at the victory, but ...

"It's easy to accept," Brown said. "I told them they played their hearts out and I was proud of them. This was so easy to accept. I'm 44 and have been around. The ball is round and some times it rolls out of the basket."

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