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Rebels zone in after slow start

January 31, 2007|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Clear Spring's boys basketball team packed into its zone defense and dared South Hagerstown to beat it from the outside Tuesday night. For a while, the Rebels failed miserably.

But once South stopped settling for outside jumpers and started attacking the teeth of the Blazers' defense, Clear Spring's house of cards came tumbling down.

After making just 5 of 18 shots in the first quarter and struggling to a 20-18 halftime lead, the Rebels' change in their offensive approach allowed them to pull away for a 55-40 victory in the MVAL Antietam.

"Clear Spring played well and had a good game plan," South coach Dennis Seman said. "They made us beat them from the outside, and we couldn't do it. We went into the locker room at the half and talked about how passive we were playing. We decided we were going to drive on their zone, and once we got a couple baskets, we jumped into our press and got a couple more."

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The Rebels (6-10, 6-3) started solving the Blazers (3-12, 0-9) in the second quarter, when reserves James Brunson and Sequan Baker each caught passes in the high post and made moves around defenders for easy scores to make it 18-12. Three-pointers by Jeremy McMullen and Keith Gilchrist helped Clear Spring keep the game close entering halftime.

But South opened the second half with a 6-0 run on a pair of baskets by Steven Burnett and one by Shane Santell to make it 26-18, and the Rebels' press started wearing out the Blazers, leading to other easy scores in transition. After Kyle Crist made a 3 to cut South's lead to 26-21, the Rebels ended the quarter on a 13-7 run and eventually increased the lead to as much as 20 points in the fourth quarter.

"In the second half we had two quick turnovers and it allowed South to become athletes again," Clear Spring coach Mark Shives said. "There's no question South is as athletic as any team in the area. They created steals and got into transition."

South's edge in height and athleticism led to a 38-21 rebounding edge, and after their first-quarter shooting struggles, the Rebels made 19 of 37 shots in the final three quarters to right the ship and stay very much in the think of the race for second place in the Antietam.

"It's the first time in my three years that we've won six games in the conference," Seman said. "I'm proud of my kids. We're making progress."

Muzammil Bhutto led South with 13 points, Santell scored all 10 of his points in the second half and Burnett and Baker each finished with nine.

"We didn't have that (depth) the last two years," Seman said. "We had one or two guys who could score in past years, but this year we have five who can, and if one of them has an off-night the others can pick up the slack. I can also turn to my bench, whereas in past years my bench was a mess."

Crist led all scorers with 14 points for Clear Spring, which made just 15 of 48 shots.

"The thing that affects our team is we're not fundamentally sound," Shives said. "When you have poor fundamentals against the athletes like South has, it leads to the score you see tonight."

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