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Rockets: Change of defensive play keeps JB from Rife stuff

March 21, 2007|by DAN KAUFFMAN

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - As Shane Rife went, so did James Buchanan's boys basketball team on Tuesday night.

When Rife was a factor inside - as he was in an 11-point, seven-rebound first half - the Rockets controlled the PIAA Class AAA state semifinal game against Greencastle-Antrim.

But when the Blue Devils switched to a zone in the second half and took the game away from Rife, the Rockets were forced to try to shoot Greencastle down.

Try as they might, the Rockets kept misfiring. With Rife neutralized, JB scored just eight second-half points and its memorable season came to a miserable end, 38-34, at Shippensburg University's Heiges Field House.

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Rife was unstoppable against Greencastle's man-to-man defense. In the first quarter, he stepped out for a 3-pointer, then grabbed his own miss on a fast break and put it in for an 11-5 lead with 3:17 left in the quarter, forcing a Blue Devils timeout.

Rife added a 16-foot jumper later in the quarter, then scored five straight points in the second quarter - the final three coming on a three-point play to make it 26-19 with 1:56 left in the half.

"They were in man-to-man in the first half, and Treavor (Gelsinger) works real hard in there. But I'm 6-6 and he's 6-0, so I didn't have trouble getting shots off," Rife said.

Greencastle (20-11) scored the final four points of the first half to make it 26-23 at halftime, then came out in a zone to start the second half and held JB (26-5) scoreless for the first 5:11. In all, the Rockets went more than seven minutes without a point.

"In the second half, they were in a zone and they could mirror me front and back," Rife said. "It was tough for me to get the ball, and we didn't make shots from outside."

Without its usually reliable inside game, JB was forced to shoot from the perimeter, and the results were ugly. The Rockets made just 4 of 23 shots in the second half (17.4 percent) and missed all eight 3-point attempts.

"(The zone) really clogged up the middle," said guard Brandon Bryan, who was held to four points on 2-of-11 shooting, including 0-for-6 on 3s. "It was hard to get the ball to Shane, and it really hurt us. We didn't shoot very well from outside. I know I didn't, and I'm not going to make any excuses."

"Once you miss a couple of shots, you start to press a bit," JB coach Larry Strawoet said. "The more you miss, the more you press harder and harder, and give (Greencastle) credit for that. They did what they had to do to win."

Like the Blue Devils, the Rockets entered the playoffs without a single state tournament victory in history. While JB's journey ended earlier than the Rockets wanted, they can be more than proud of their run to the state semifinals.

"It's a shame someone has to lose this game, and it was us," Strawoet said. "But I can't be any more proud of a group of kids than this."

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