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Dogs' playoff chances end in 50-45 OT loss

Posted: February 4, 2012 10:54 a.m.
Updated: February 6, 2012 5:00 a.m.

In a season of near-misses, this was the unkindest cut of all.
With its Friday night game with visiting Marlboro County knotted at 41, Camden got the ball back with four seconds left in regulation after the guests were called for a traveling violation after a CHS missed shot.
Setting up a play in which Josh Council would come off a screen, the ball came to the junior guard whose 3-point jumper did everything by go down, forcing overtime. In the extra session, the guests would outscore the Dogs, 9-4, for a 50-45 victory while securing the fourth and final playoff berth in Region 6-AAA.
Camden, 3-6 in 6-AAA, will host Darlington in Tuesday's regular season finale. MC improved to 3-6 in league play and even if Camden downs Darlington on Tuesday and should Lakewood upset MC, the Bennettsville squad owns the tie-breaker in having swept Camden in both meetings this season.
In a 38-33 loss to MC in Bennettsville earlier this year, Camden missed its first six free throws of the night. On Friday, the Bulldogs clanked eight of their nine opportunities from the foul line including one with 1:44 left in regulation and all three in the extra session.
“One-for-nine. One-for-nine,” said CHS head coach Ron McKie following the disappointing defeat. “People in the stands were yelling that we have to practice free throws. We practice them every day; we shoot 30 or 40 a day and work on their form.
“I don’t know if we got tired or just got tight because it was a close ballgame. But you’re not going to beat anybody when you go one-for-nine from the free throw line.”
Having played to a 21-all stalemate after the first half, Camden found itself on the low end of a 27-24 count after MC used a 6-3 run in the opening three and one-half minutes of the third quarter. Camden’s lone basket in the spell was a Council 3-point jumper which gave his team a 24-23 lead at the 6:51 marker.
Camden, though, would then use a pair of baskets from Delton Bradford in an 8-0 run as the Dogs went up, 33-27, after the sophomore center found the mark on a jump hook with 2:18 left in the third.
MC would stop the bleeding with a Michael McManus 3-ball and he and CHS’ Dashon Tucker would trade baskets to end a quarter which ended with CHS holding to a 35-32 advantage.
The guests reclaimed the lead in scoring the first five points of the fourth quarter. Camden would then use a 3-ball from Council and a Hamid Mathis bruising layin with 2:26 left in regulation to go on top, 40-37.
MC would get a pair of Andrew Underwood free throws and a 10-foot jumper from Malik Ford to sandwich a Darelle Smith free throw to knot things at 41 with 90 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
CHS would milk the clock with MC stopping it as the guests fouled three times to get to five fouls for the half. The fifth of those came with 9.2 seconds left.
After Mathis missed a jumper with six seconds left, MC got the rebound and was called for traveling as four seconds were put on the clock.
During a time out, McKie scripted two plays, including Council’s late-second shot.
“We ran Jamari (Ferguson) off a screen and Josh off a double-screen,” he said. “We wanted whoever was open to take the shot.
“We had a good look at it. It just didn’t fall. We just didn’t have anybody step up and hit big shots for us tonight. They had two guys who stepped up and hit big shots for them.”
In overtime, CHS missed three free throws in opening three minutes which stalled things. A Fidel Wise jumper was the only thing which stood in the way of a 6-2 MC surge, in which all six points came via the foul line. The guest knocked down 11 of their 18 tries from the stripe which included nine of their final 10 attempts in the final two minutes of regulation and in the four-minute overtime.
CHS did not place a player in double figures on a night in which Smith’s nine points paced the Dogs. Council and Ferguson were next with eight and seven points, respectively.
McKie said losing at home in overtime was a, especially tough way to lose a state playoff berth.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said. “We have not shot well at home, that is kind of mind-blowing because you do all your shooting drills here in your home gym. You would think a team would shoot better on their home court, but we haven’t done that all year.
Third quarter dooms CHS girls: Natalie Jeffcoat likes  the fact that her Camden girls never give up and seem the be at their best in the fourth quarter.
But the Lady Bulldog boss would rather have it a bit easier in the stretch run.
Friday night, Camden trailed visiting Marlboro County, 41-22, with 7:18 remaining to be played in what ended in a 62-43 MC victory. But Camden used a 19-8 run to close the gap to eight points with 2:18 left in the contest.
The CHS comeback was forced after the guests outscored the Lady Bulldogs by a 17-5 count in a third quarter which ended with MC leading, 40-22.
“For some reason, we haven’t been able to avoid those long scoring droughts,” said Jeffcoat, whose girls fell to 2-7 in Region 6-AAA play. “That was the difference in the ballgame.”
CHS rallied behind sophomore forward Quasha Jefferson, who scored 12 of her team-best 14 points in a run of less than five minutes in which CHS chopped the deficit to 49-41 after a Porsha Griffin laying with 2:15 left. Camden would still trail by eight with another Griffin layin 25 seconds later.
The taller and more experienced guests finally salted this one away by scoring the game’s final 11 points.
“In the first half,” Jeffcoat said, “I thought we did a good job defensively on the first shot. But they were getting three or four cracks at it. Whenever you give a team that many chances, they are bound to score. Had we been able to keep them off the boards, I think we might have been able to go into the half with a little cushion instead of being down (23-17) and, maybe, we would have had a chance to survive that (third quarter) drought.
“They’re just big and athletic.”
CHS trailed, 13-12, after the first quarter and went on top, 15-13, when sophomore Sharneece Gary drained her third 3-ball of the first nine and one-half minutes of the game. A pair of Griffin free throws kept the lead at two, before MC closed with an 8-0 run, fueled by three second-chance baskets.
MC used a 15-2 rally to open the second half while building a 38-19 lead with less than three minutes left in the third.
While CHS will not make the playoffs, a win over Darlington Tuesday will give the Lady Bulldogs a 9-9 final record.
“It’s been eight years, Coach (Mike) Culp’s final season, since we’ve had a .500 (season) or a winning record,” Jeffcoat said. “We have a lot to play for on Tuesday night.
“I challenged our girls to be a part of a team which sets this thing for getting back on the right course. We have every intention of doing that. I feel that we’ll come out Tuesday and play hard to try to end on a positive note.”

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