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Rockets misfire against West York's frontline defense

February 27, 2007|by TIM KOELBLE

HERSHEY, Pa. - James Buchanan found out that West York can play some defense, and do it quite well.

The Bulldogs, Pennsylvania Class AAA's top-ranked team and top seed in the PIAA District 3 tournament, stifled James Buchanan for a 67-56 victory on Monday night before 2,659 fans at the Giant Center.

"People were talking that (West York) could only play offense, but they made us work for anything we got," said JB senior Shane Rife, who scored a game-high 22 points. "Every rebound and every shot was contested."

The loss sends the Rockets (22-4) into the consolation round and into a Thursday game against Muhlenberg with a time and site to be announced.

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All is not lost for the Rockets, who have two games left including a state-tournament opener, but the road will be a little tougher.

"We realize now we can't win the district, but we're still going to the state and hopefully we can make some noise there," said Rife, who also had nine rebounds.

James Buchanan couldn't find the hoop from inside the arc in the first period (0 for 6), relying on three 3-pointers - two by Brandon Bryan - to only trail 13-10 after the first eight minutes.

Rife kept the Rockets close with six points in the second period before a trey by Bryan cut a deficit to 25-22 with 56 seconds left in the first half.

The Bulldogs took away some momentum on a 3-pointer by Cory Kane at the buzzer. Kane came off the bench in the final 15 seconds of the half for what was his only shot of the game.

JB fell behind 37-27 in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by West York's Josh Koht.

However, the Rockets refocused behind a pair of baskets by Dion Lehman to slice the deficit to 37-35 at the 2:40 mark.

West York countered with a key basket by Matt Moley on an offensive putback on the buzzer after Lehman missed three free throws to put the Bulldogs back on top by 42-37 by the end o of the quarter.

JB never really recovered.

The Bulldogs took all the bite out of the Rockets with a quick 6-0 blitz for an 11-point lead to start the fourth quarter.

"The game was definitely won in the paint," said JB coach Larry Strawoet. "They were strong inside and they really picked up the defensive intensity on us."

Of West York's 31 rebounds, 12 were second-chance opportunities, converting eight for scores.

"We got caught a little flat-footed and sat back some," said Strawoet. "The kids are hurting some (in the locker) but there is still a lot of basketball to be played. We'll go back and prepare for Muhlenberg."

The Rockets hit 22 of 54 from the field, compared to West York, which went 18 of 44.

Each team fired from long range. Bryan hit on six 3s while West York hit on 9 of 11 3-pointers.

A big advantage came at the line where the Bulldogs hit 20 of 25 tries compared to 3 for 7 for JB. West York hi 13 of 17 in the fourth quarter, mostly near the end when the Rockets were forced to foul.

JB's scoring attack consisted of Rife, Bryan's 20 andLehman's 12. Rife was 9 of 14 from the floor.

West York had more balance in their attack, led by Rob Estep's 16.

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