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Lions go inside to take out Rebels

February 16, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

The Walkersville boys basketball team has established itself as the team to beat in the Maryland 2A West region by using conventional wisdom.

Let's call it thinking inside the box.

On Friday, those boxes on the floor - on each side of the key - were the prizes inside for the Lions.

Walkersville turned to a basic inside game to begin a 14-2 run in the final five minutes for a 66-55 MVAL Piedmont win over South Hagerstown.

"We said from the beginning that we got to go inside with the ball," said Walkersville coach Bruce Zimmerman. "We were coming down and settling for jump shots. I'd rather throw the ball inside every time."

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Center Jordan Dixon ignited the final run with his inside play and rebounding by scoring four straight points that erased a 53-52 lead South had with 5:01 remaining.

Dixon snuck around his defender for an easy layup off a baseline out-of-bounds pass at 4:48 to give Walkersville the lead. Then he grabbed a rebound, threw an outlet pass and ran the floor to get it back for a lay-in to give the Lions (15-4, 6-1) a 56-53 advantage.

Walkersville backed it up with a couple layups off basic entry passes into the post and nailed it down with stingy closing defense to choke off the Rebels, who played the Lions head up for the first 27 minutes of the game.

"Down the stretch, we didn't stay in the team concept," South coach Kevin Naylor said. "At the beginning of the year, I was looking for someone to step up and take a shot. Now, everyone wants the shot. I kept calling for patience, but we never did in the end."

South (7-12, 0-7) spread the floor to open the game and beat Walkersville down the floor. Alvin Roberson scored six of the Rebels' first 10 points for a 10-4 lead. Walkersville battled back as Jarvary Brown scored nine of the Lions' last 10 points in the quarter to pull into a 14-14 tie.

The two teams went through three ties and eight lead changes in the second quarter, finished with a Dixon putback with 7.5 seconds remaining to give Walkersville a 28-27 lead at the half.

"We knew they wanted to get the ball on the blocks," Naylor said. "We wanted to run our spread and open up the floor and get the backdoor cuts.

In the fourth quarter, we got away from the gameplan."

South used the 3-point shooting of Shane Santell to keep up with the Lions in the third quarter. Walkersville raised havoc with a full-court press to get the early advantage, but the Rebels hung tough, using Steve Burnett's 3 at the buzzer for a 48-48 tie after three quarters.

South pushed out to the 53-52 lead on Chris Jackson's 3 before Zimmerman finally got the Lions' attention.

"I just told them that if we didn't play better, we weren't going to win," Zimmerman said. "We are No. 1 in the region and we need to have the mentality that we are going to come in and play from the beginning. We had some great passing at the end. Shawn Abercrombie, who is coming off the broken foot, was a key with his passing because we wanted to look inside to Dixon and Brown."

Walkersville's defense gummed up South as the Lions pulled away. Chris Harris scored five points and Scott Morris added three in the final run.

Jackson hit a 12-footer with 19.6 seconds remaining to keep the Rebels from being shutout in the final five minutes.

Brown led all scorers with 26 points, while Dixon had 14 and Morris finished with 13. Santell and Roberson had 15 each for South.

"We knew they had the height advantage," Naylor said. "If we were able to keep the floor spread and play defense, we would have played a much better ball game."

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