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Ball doesn't bounce Hubs' way

February 21, 2009|By CHRIS CARTER

FREDERICK, Md. -- North Hagerstown found out Friday night that execution is sometimes inferior to bad fortune.

North's main objective in the final seconds against Thomas Johnson was to keep the ball from guard Victor Walker. The Hubs did a fine job of that, but a deflection directed the ball right to the Patriots junior on the right wing, where he drained a buzzer-beating 18-footer to give his team a 66-65 victory on Senior Night.

The off-balance jumper touched nothing but net, sending Walker sprinting to the other end of the court where he was swarmed by his home crowd. It was the last of his 22 points on the night.

"The last possession we just tried to not let No. 4 (Walker) get the ball and beat us," said North coach Kevin Hartman. "The ball got knocked out, he got it and capitalized on it."

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Capitalization is something that eluded North (10-12) in the fourth quarter. The Hubs led 58-48 with 3:29 left in the game but allowed Thomas Johnson (12-8) to hit eight of its last 10 shots.

Patriots junior Brian Healy hit a pair of foul shots to close the gap to 65-64 with six seconds left, giving the Hubs the ball underneath the basket needing only to inbound the ball cleanly to have a chance at being sent to the foul line to extend the lead.

Tyler Spencer's pass into the frontcourt was intercepted by Kevin Cross, setting up TJ with the game's last possession. After a Patriots timeout, Cross brought the ball across mid-court only to have it knocked from his hands. But the loose ball went to Walker, who sealed the Hubs' fate.

"We could have done things better and I'll take the blame for that," Hartman said. "I thought we battled to the end and I'll give TJ credit for battling to the end. A bounce went their way, and we had a chance at the same bounce and didn't get it."

It was a bitter ending to a Jekyll-and-Hyde night for North. At times the Hubs looked flawless offensively, only to appear clumsy and indecisive moments later.

The Hubs had a spurt in the second quarter when they made 8 of 9 shots -- including an 11-0 run -- then turned around and allowed TJ to reel off 13 straight points, during which North went 0-for-5 with five turnovers.

Then after hitting their last eight shots of the third quarter to build a double-digit lead, the Hubs made just three field goals in the fourth quarter and committed 10 turnovers.

North wasted a very good shooting night -- it connected on 24 of 43 shots (55.8 percent) -- by committing 24 turnovers.

"There's just times that we could be stronger with the ball," Hartman said. "We could be more active on the offensive and defensive boards. We could do a lot of little things a little bit better and we're not in a position where they hit a jump shot with less than a second (remaining)."

Brent Bell had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Hubs, who had only five players -- all starters -- crack the scorebook. Joe Mattei also had 19 points, Allen Sandberg had 15 and Spencer finished with eight.

Thomas Johnson 66, North Hagerstown 65
NORTH HAGERSTOWN (10-12)

Sandberg 15, Spencer 8, Rivas 4, Bell 19, Mattei 19. Totals 24 14-22 65.
THOMAS JOHNSON (12-8)
Walker 22, Myers 2, Cross 8, Bowens 8, Jenkins 3, Healy 9, Fisher 10, Cosley 2, Duvall 2. Totals 23 18-23 66.
T. Johnson 12 16 14 24 -- 66
N. Hagerstown 13 19 20 13 -- 65

3-point goals -- North 3 (Sandberg 2, Bell); Thomas Johnson 2 (Walker, Jenkins). Fouled out -- Jenkins. Technical foul -- Thomas Johnson, bench. JV -- Thomas Johnson, 55-52, OT (NH: J.R. Railing 12, Jake Bachtell 12; TJ: Kyle Carpenter 14).

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