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North can't deny Liberty

February 11, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

For about 11 minutes of the second half, the North Hagerstown boys basketball team tried a Patrick Henry act.

The Hubs tried for Liberty, but ultimately ended up with death.

And it was a painful death that controlled offense and strong rebounding can bring to a free-flowing team. Liberty used both to build a lead and then regain it on Tuesday for a 74-62 win, ruining North's senior day festivities as the Hubs lost their fourth straight.

Liberty played its motion offense to the hilt in the first half for a 34-22 halftime lead. North came back to start the second half to tie the game at 49-49, but lost control as the Lions finished the game with a 25-13 run, fueled by nine of Daniel Martinez's game-high 28 points.

"It was up and down," said North coach Kevin Hartman. "We didn't make anything in the first half and they did. We struggled against their big guy (6-foot-6 Trey Parsons) because he was altering shots and getting his hands on rebounds on the other end."

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The first half was a highlight reel for Liberty (10-8). The Lions used a patient motion offense to create open shots and crashed the backboards to control the tempo of the game. North couldn't match up with size or control.

Liberty used a 7-0 run, ignited by the first of four 3s by Martinez, to pull out to an 11-5 lead midway through the first quarter and slowly build the 12-point halftime lead.

"This was a big game for us because it counted so much in the regional standings," said Liberty coach Steve Johnson. "We are all scrambling to get seeded in the region tournament. It is coming down to us, North and South Hagerstown and this win for us puts North two games back."

The second half, though, didn't follow the first-half plan.

North (9-8) was able to get Liberty into a running game, opening up the floor for the Hubs to freelance their way back into the game. Joe Mattei gave the Hubs a jolt with his play and Allen Sandberg hit a couple of big shots to allow them to scratch back.

North unleashed an 11-0 run over a two-minute span to move within 42-40, keyed by six straight points by Mattei. Johnson called time with 2:22 left in the quarter to set the Lions' record straight.

"We just stopped rebounding. We have lapses like that," Johnson said. "I just told them to start rebounding again and regain focus. We came in thinking if we could rebound, we could handle this team."

The plan worked for Liberty, but not without another scare.

The Lions used a 3 by Billy Ham to regain their lead while Mattei left the game with his four fouls. North still fought back, tying the score at 49-49 on a 12-footer off the baseline by Sandberg with 6:07 remaining.

Liberty regained the lead right before North's comeback juggernaut halted by throwing its sparkplug. Mattei fouled out with 3:54 remaining.

"This is not putting any blame on Joe, but it really hurt when we had to take him out with fouls and when he fouled out," Hartman said. "He was the one getting us moving and helping us get to the inside. We just struggle inside ... both on offense and defense, we are in trouble."

Liberty began to ice the game with a 10-0 run right after Mattei left.

Sandberg finished with 21 points, including four 3s, while Brent Bell added 18 and Mattei had 14. Bell and Mattei had nine rebounds each, with Mattei's all coming in the second half.

Connor Rigby had 16 and Parsons had 15 for Liberty.

Liberty 74, North Hagerstown 62
LIBERTY (10-8)

Martinez 28, Rigby 16, Ham 5, Parsons 15, Roscrans 2, Suddath 8 Totals 25 18-26 74.
NORTH HAGERSTOWN (9-9)
Sandberg 21, Calendine 1, Spencer 5, Bell 18, Stoner 6, Mattei 14 Totals 24 10-18 62.
Liberty 19 15 13 27 - 74
North 10 12 20 20 - 62

3-point goals - Liberty 6 (Martinez 4, Rigby, Ham), North Hagerstown 4 (Sandberg 4). Fouled out - Mattei, Psillas.

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