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Rebels, Hubs go down for count to Cumberland

December 29, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

It was the kind of game that may be the most frustrating for players and coaches alike - the kind where a victory is right there, inches away from your fingertips, tantalizingly close, but yet, still too far away.

Unfortunately for South Hagerstown's boys basketball team, the Rebels were the ones reaching hungrily for a long-awaited victory in their own gym, only to have Allegany rip it away and complete a Cumberland sweep of the Two-Town Showdown on Thursday night.

Justin Gates' 3-pointer off an inbounds play with 1:55 left gave the Campers a 46-42 lead and Allegany held on to turn back the pesky Rebels 51-44, finishing off a four-game sweep for the Campers and their rival, Fort Hill, over the two-day mixer.

The Sentinels defeated North Hagerstown 66-52 in Thursday's first contest.

With Allegany (5-1) clinging to a one-point lead and inbounding the ball from the baseline to the left of South's basket, Gates cut to the left wing, took the pass and drilled the shot to give the Campers some breathing room.

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"On that play, I thought (Allegany) would pull it out, and we were going to trap on the next pass," South coach Dennis Seman said. "I did not expect them to shoot.

"If they miss that shot, that's good for us, that's what we want, a quick shot like that. But it didn't work that way."

Allegany made 5 of 6 foul shots the rest of the way - the Campers made 16 of 21 overall compared to 2 of 6 for the Rebels (0-6) - to ice the game, despite making just 15 of 51 field goal attempts (29.4 percent).

South made 18 of 48 shots (37.5 percent), but the foul shooting discrepancy combined with the Rebels' 26 turnovers added up to a close loss.

"We had a chance to win, but the stats didn't go our way," Seman said. "We've had six tough games, but we're battle tested. We're hungry for Tuesday."

Steven Burnett - at 5-foot-5 the smallest player on the floor - scored South's first nine points on three 3s and finished with a team-high 15 points. Muzammil Bhutto added 12.

Tyler Wharton led all scorers with 17 points for the Campers.

In the opener, Fort Hill's inside-out duo of forward Zach Blank and point guard Jordan Brooks proved too much for North Hagerstown to overcome.

Blank scored 25 points, 12 coming in the fourth quarter as Fort Hill (7-0) outscored the Hubs (1-6) 19-13 in the final eight minutes. Almost all of Blank's points came from the low post, as he beat North's defenders to that spot and either scored in close or forced the Hubs to foul. In the latter case, Blank made North pay by making 7 of 9 free throws.

"They pounded it inside on us late," North coach Tim McNamee said. "They're so big and strong, they're tough to stop. ... They wore us down inside."

Meanwhile, Brooks - an gifted athlete who, at 6 feet tall, dunked twice on breakaways and made several more acrobatic, mid-range jumpers - finished with 19 points.

"Brooks takes over for them when they get in trouble," McNamee said.

North trailed by eight at halftime, 28-20. The Hubs cut the lead to four several times in the second half, the last coming in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but offensive inconsistency - North made just 21 of 53 shots (39.6 percent) - kept the Hubs from getting closer.

"To win, you have to make an answer," McNamee said. "We made some runs, but we never had the big answer. We can't seem to get over the hump right now. We're close. We just have to keep at it."

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