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Allen's memory helps Hubs make rematch nightmare for Knights

February 04, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

LaRae Allen was a girl possessed on Tuesday.

The North Hagerstown senior remembered the Hubs' 59-52 loss to MVAL Piedmont rival Middletown on Jan. 18. She wasn't going to let it happen again.

Allen dominated from the opening tip to the final buzzer, finishing with 25 points and 18 rebounds as North took it to the Knights in a 64-46 victory that put the Hubs in position to earn a share of the Piedmont title.

"I just wanted to win," Allen said. "In our minds, we should have won the first game. We had to prove ourselves. This was a big win. It's very satisfying. If we play as hard as we've been playing, we can beat anybody."

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North (16-1, 5-1) piled up a 59-28 rebounding edge against Middletown (13-3, 4-1), and it proved decisive.

"I think this was the best we've played all year because of the way we rebounded the basketball against a good team," Hubs coach Barry Brown said.

The Hubs started the game on an 11-2 run -- North's senior leaders, Allen and Kirksten Mitchell, each scored four points during it -- before the Knights answered with an 18-8 spurt to take their only lead of the game at 20-19 with 4:22 left in the second quarter.

North ended the first half with a 12-2 run to take a 31-22 lead into halftime. Iman Scott hit a pair of 3-pointers from the left corner to start the run, and Kishia Jackson scored the final six points, including two aggressive drives to the basket for layups.

"That was a game-changer," Brown said. "That period right before halftime set the tone for the second half. We're a team that gets on runs, and we don't know when they're coming, but that one was huge for us."

Allen scored 19 points in the second half. The 6-footer, who is mostly asked to battle inside, took advantage of her quickness by catching the ball 12 to 15 feet away from the basket and making moves around slower Knights defenders for baskets.

"LaRae is not really a center, she's a small forward in a 6-footer's body with a 6-3 wingspan," Brown said. "She can put the ball on the floor and score with either hand, and she can shoot. Tonight, she expressed herself."

Kirksten Mitchell -- who finished with 21 points -- made three of her four 3s in the half as North kept expanding its lead to as many as 20 points halfway through the fourth quarter.

"My shot, it comes and goes," Mitchell said. "When I'm in a zone, I keep shooting because I'm a shooter."

North's defense held Middletown to 19-for-66 shooting from the field. The Hubs made just 20 of 64 shots, but hit on 17 of 21 free throws and owned the glass to finish the job.

"Before the game, we went into the locker room, turned off our cell phones, turned on the music and just got focused," Mitchell said. "In the team circle, we talked about what we needed to do. We always say, 'Respect all, fear none,' and that's how we played."

"We gave a great effort, and we were hoping it would be enough," Brown said. "Today, it was."

If the Hubs -- who have won 13 straight -- can earn victories at Walkersville on Friday and at home against South Hagerstown on Feb. 17, they'll win at least a share of the Piedmont title.

Brown pointed to a come-from-behind 69-57 victory over Walkersville on Jan. 24 as the catalyst for North's recent run of high-level basketball.

"We've been building on that," Brown said. "I thought we'd play better once we started playing tougher competition (in the Piedmont) regularly, and that's proven true."

Scott finished with 10 points and Jackson added eight points, five rebounds and three assists for North. Mitchell had five rebounds and four assists, and Allen also had four assists.

North Hagerstown 64, Middletown 46
MIDDLETOWN (13-3, 4-1)

Payne 4, House 3, Keimig 9, Kessler 6, Oursler 9, Robertson 6, Maerz 8, Holt 1. Totals 19 6-11 46.
NORTH HAGERSTOWN (16-1, 5-1)
Mitchell 21, Allen 25, Scott 10, Jackson 8. Totals 20 17-21 64.
Middletown 14 8 11 13 -- 46
North 16 15 17 16 -- 64

3-point goals -- Middletown 2 (Keimig, Oursler), North 7 (Mitchell 4, Scott 3).

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