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Dogs hold off pesky Knights in 6-AAA opener

Posted: January 7, 2012 12:44 p.m.
Updated: January 9, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Camden, S.C.) sports editor
Ball security or, the lack thereof, came back to haunt Camden in last Wednesday’s 71-70 loss at Newberry.
In Friday’s Region 6-AAA opener, the Bulldogs held onto the basketball and held off a late-game surge from visiting Crestwood thanks to clutch free throw shooting which led the hosts to a 56-48 win over the improved Knights.
The 48 points which Crestwood scored in a losing effort more than doubled their output from the last time they came into the Dog Pound and left with a 34-20 loss to Ron McKie’s troops. On this night, Crestwood nearly scored that many points in a 17-point fourth quarter in which the guests used a 9-0 run to trim the deficit to 46-42 with less than two and a half minutes to play.
Down the stretch, Camden used just one basket --- from center Delton Bradford --- while clicking on eight of its final 12 free throw chances to seal the deal. A lone turnover in the final 70 seconds, on a forced inside pass, was the only blip in the Dogs’ putting this one away.
“We lost a close game at Newberry the other night and, hopefully, we learned from it,” McKie said. “We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball, not forcing anything and making the defense foul us or our giving up an easy basket.
“That’s something that we’re going to have to work on, but we did a little better job of that tonight than we did at Newberry.”
Camden (6-3) did not trail in this one after Fidel Wise put back a missed shot for an 8-6 lead at the 2:27 mark of the first quarter. In fact, Crestwood was only able to get this game into a one-possession contest (with that being a 3-point basket) on two occasions from that point. The second of those came when a Jarvis Hudson stickback followed a Garian Williams 3-point basket, cutting the deficit to 51-48 with 56 seconds to play.
With 39 ticks left in the game clock, Camden point guard Darelle Smith hit a free throw to extend the lead to four. A missed Knight trey attempt was corralled by Bradford, who made a foul shot 14 seconds later to make it a 53-48 contest. The scenario was then repeated and with 16.8 seconds left as a Bradford free throw made it 54-48. A pair of Smith freebies with less than five seconds remaining upped the ante to eight at 56-48.
Camden finished the night knocking down 15 of its 21 free throws, a far cry from a year ago when the foul line was hardly where McKie wanted to see his team in a close game.
“We hit free throws, which is something we struggled with last year, at the end to keep it from getting to a one-possession game,” he said. “That’s what you have to do in region play, especially on the road, but we took care of it at home. I’m just happy that we’re shooting free throws better than we did last year.”
Early in the fourth quarter, this one hardly looked as if it would come down to making good from the charity stripe as Camden answered a Harry Titus floater with an 8-0 run to pull ahead to a 46-33 advantage with less than six minutes remaining. The run opened with a Bradford layin, off one of several feeds from Josh Council, a Jamari Ferguson 3-ball and a rally-closing, traditional 3-point play from Council, who was drilled to the floor on his drive.
Unfazed, the Knights rattled off nine unanswered points in less than three minutes with a Titus trey closing the gap to 46-42 with 2:50 remaining. The hosts would get back on track with Smith dropping in three of four free throws, sandwiching a Bradford putback on a loose ball, which gave the Dogs a seemingly comfortable 51-43 advantage with 1:39 left. But Crestwood had the one, aforementioned, run left in it.
Camden jumped to a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter against the cold-shooting Knights. The Dogs used an 8-0 rally in the closing 2:27 in a first quarter which opened with Council finding the mark from distance on two occasions while scoring eight of his game-best 15 points in the first stanza.
The Bulldog lead was extended to double-digits for the first time when Dashon Tucker came off the bench to bury a trey to open the second quarter. When Council went in the lane for a 10-foot pull-up jumper, it gave Camden a 26-16 lead with 21 seconds left in the half. But the Knights used a Seth Fitzgerald 3-ball, after he came off a screen, to draw the guests to within seven at the break.
The basket was the first of the game for Fitzgerald. The Knights’ leading scorer was hounded by several Camden players, including Bryton McEachin, as McKie opened the game with a box and one against Fitzgerald and company for the second straight year.
“The scouting report that I got on them was that they are not a great outside shooting team so, our focus to keep them out on the perimeter, limit them to one shot and take their left-handed guard (Seth Fitzgerald) out of the game,” McKie said of the box and one.
“We didn’t want (Fitzgerald) to get off to a fast start, especially at our place. We ran it against them last year, so it should not have come as a surprise. I didn’t want him to get comfortable out there. I said that if they do something about it, we can go talk about it at halftime.”
Camden stretched its lead to 30-19 when a Council slam dunk off the break and Smith’s steal and spinning layin opened the second half scoring. With the pace picking up, Fitzgerald was able to get better looks in the third quarter and hit a trey and later converted on a traditional 3-point play, the latter cutting the lead down to 34-31 with 1:42 left in the third.
Camden rebounded with a Wise free throw and the first of two 3-point baskets from Ferguson on the night to carry a seven-point, 38-31, spread into the fourth quarter.
The Dogs received 25 points from their backcourt of Council and Smith, led by Council’s 15. Bradford was next with nine for Camden which paved the way to victory with intensity on the defensive end of the floor. Fitzgerald ended up with 12 points, well below his season average.
“I told them this was a region game and, especially with it being at home, we have to play every defensive possession like we are down six or eight (points),” McKie said. “We’re not a very big team, so we have to move our feet, stay in position and box out.
“We also have people coming off our bench when we play our (box and one) and who are playing well. Bryton McEachin did a good job. Martrell Johnson and Travis Smith, that’s our defense. Those kids know their role and they’re happy with it. It worked tonight.”

Crestwood (48): Harry Titus 4 0-1 9, Gorian Williams 6 0-2 13, Jarvis Hudson 5 0-1 10, Devonte McKnight 1 0-0 2, Seth Fitzgerald 4 2-4 12, Raheem Benjamin 1 0-1 2. Totals: 21 2-9 48
Camden (56): Josh Council 6 1-1 15, Fidel Wise 1 1-2 3, Jamal Jackson 1 0-0 2, Darelle Smith 2 6-8 10, Dashon Tucker 1 2-2 5, Delton Bradford 3 3-6 9, Hamid Mathis 1 0-0 2, Martrell Johnson 1 0-0 2, Bryton McEachin 0 2-2 2, Jamari Ferguson 2 0-0 6. Totals: 18 15-21 56

Score by quarters: First: Camden, 14-6; Halftime: Camden, 26-19; Third: Camden, 38-31; Three-point goals: Crestwood 4 (Fitzgerald 2, Titus, Williams), Camden 5 (Ferguson 2, Council 2, Tucker)

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