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South boys pick spots vs. Leopards

January 19, 2007|by TIM KOELBLE

South Hagerstown did everything right for nearly three quarters before withstanding a barrage of turnovers to defeat Smithsburg 61-50 on Thursday night in an MVAL Antietam boys basketball contest at South.

The Rebels (3-8, 3-2) rolled to a 31-18 halftime lead and opened up a 17-point advantage with just under two minutes to play in the third period before a bevy of turnovers nearly spoiled the effort.

Smithsburg used the turnovers on five straight South possessions to crawl back to within 44-36 and clearly snatch momentum away from the Rebels.

Suddenly, South righted itself with two baskets from James Brunson and one each from Jason Thompson, Alvin Roberson and Sequan Baker to bolt to a 54-38 margin before holding off the Leopards over the final four minutes, despite committing 12 turnovers in the final eight minutes.

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"I didn't have the right players in the game at the point we had that lead and (Smithsburg) starts pressing us," said South coach Dennis Seman. "I give credit to Smithsburg for coming back. We couldn't put them away."

Seman can also give credit to his bench, which performed admirably.

Muzammil Bhutto led the Rebels with 20 points and Roberson had 10 in starting roles, but Brunson's 13 points and nine more from Baker made the difference for South.

"Brunson was a spark plug off the bench for us and along with Baker, we have energy coming off the bench," said Seman.

Bhutto scored seven points in the third period to help ignite South to its big lead and Baker scored all seven of his points in the final quarter to help cement the win.

For the 6-foot-2 junior Brunson, it's a matter of getting an opportunity to learn to play a sport he's fast beginning to enjoy.

"(Brunson) never played organized basketball before," said Seman. "He's been here since school started after moving from Florida."

Brunson said he was more interested in football while in Florida and was a quarterback.

"Football was my only sport and I never took basketball seriously at all," said Brunson. "There is so much to learn but it's the first year I've ever played. I'm getting to love basketball."

Bhutto hit 8 of 13 shots for South, which shot 51 percent on 26 of 51. Brunson and Roberson each had five rebounds for the Rebels.

Smithsburg (3-10, 1-4) could look back on a faulty second period, when it was outscored 15-5, and at to the free throw line in the last quarter, when the Leopards went 8 of 15 while trying to make a full comeback, as keys to the loss.

"We had a total lack of execution in the second quarter," said Leopards coach Eric Gerber. "We weren't handling South's pressure like I thought we did in the second half."

Gerber was forced to use three timeouts in the third quarter while trying to keep South in sight.

"I told the kids the execution against their fullcourt pressure was not good enough," said Gerber. "To their credit, they came back and I'm happy about that."

Steve Whitt led Smithsburg with 12 points while Josh Edwards and Josh Conway each added nine.

"We really wanted to frustrate Edwards and his shot attempts and we did that in the first half," said Seman, as the Rebels held Edwards scoreless through the break.

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