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Bulldogs come up short in upset bid

Posted: January 26, 2013 12:46 p.m.
Updated: January 28, 2013 5:00 a.m.

On what turned out to be D.J. Wilson’s welcome to the big-time party, Lower Richland stole the cake and then ate it, too.
Playing without the services of starting 6-foot-4, 300-pound center Delton Bradford, the Camden boys’ basketball team needed someone to step up in the middle against a visiting Lower Richland squad which entered Friday’s game on the Mike Culp Court with a 6-0 record in Region 4-AAA play.
A year younger and some 100 pounds thinner than Bradford, Wilson came up with more than 10 rebounds, two blocks and altered several Diamond Hornet shots. His four points were a bonus. Yet, all those numbers were not enough to give CHS a win as the guests left the Dog Pound with a 47-43 victory.
The loss left the Dogs with a 2-5 record, tied for fourth in the 4-AAA race for one of the four playoff slots and one game behind Dreher, whose win over Westwood gave the Blue Devils a 3-4 league mark. The Bulldogs travel to meet Dreher in a key conference battle on Tuesday night in Columbia.
The victory assured the Diamond Hornets of finishing no worse than in a tie for the conference title with three games left in region play. In their two games with Camden, Willie Thomas’ squad has swept the Bulldogs by a scant 10 points after having won the first meeting in Hopkins in nearly identical fashion, 49-43.
“You can’t fault the effort,” said Camden head coach Ron McKie after the gut-wrenching defeat. “Our kids played their hearts out. We just can’t find a way to win games at the end.
“We missed too many (six) free throws, we turned the ball over too many times and we couldn’t get a big shot to fall for us. But the kids played their hearts out, again.”
 In a game in which neither side held more than a four-point lead over the course of the final 19-plus minutes of play, it was a pair of free throws from Jared Richardson which gave the Diamond Hornets a 41-38 advantage with 3:23 showing on the fourth quarter clock.
In the span of 52 seconds, the Bulldogs had this one back even.
With 3:08 left, Alexx Cooke hit a free throw. Wilson then came up with a block at the other end of the floor. The ball went to CHS senior guard Josh Council who, with two defenders on his hip, took the ball strong to the basket for a baseline drive which knotted things at 41 with 2:40 left in the game. LR would go up by one with a Vincent Hicklin free throw, seven seconds later.
A pair of turnovers and Camden’s missing a short jumper with 1:21 to go allowed the guests to keep their one-point cushion which went up to three when Clemson football commitment Marcus Edmond floated in an eight-foot jumper from the left side of the basket with 52 clicks left in the clock.
Another Council drive narrowed the margin to one, at 44-43, with 32 seconds to play as McKie immediately called for a time out. Two seconds later, Hicklin was fouled and missed the front end of the one and the bonus with Wilson grabbing the rebound.
Camden’s chance to take the lead went by the boards when Josh Sumpter’s eight-foot jumper did everybody but drop with LR getting the rebound. Camden quickly fouled Alonzo Gibson, who hit one of his two tries with 12.1 seconds to play.
Facing severe pressure from the Diamond Hornets, who attacked the ball with three defenders, the Dogs could not get set on offense as a steal led to a Brandon Stroman layin as the buzzer sounded.
“When you see that kind of pressure all game,” McKie said of what his team faced from LR, “it wears on you. We’re not a great ball handling team and by the fourth quarter (the pressure) had worn us down. That’s tough when you have three people swarming you. You really can’t simulate that size and speed in practice against your second team.
“The officials let it get real physical. I thought they could have called more fouls, but we have to learn to play through that. It caught up with us at the end and, we just turned the ball over at the wrong time.”
Early on, it was the 6-foot-6 Hicklin who gave the Bulldogs fits inside. The senior center scored nine of LR’s first 14 points --- including six straight points in a little more than a minute --- which gave the guests a 14-5 lead with 2:15 to play in a first quarter in which the Diamond Hornets led by nine at 15-6.
Junior guard Denzel Martin came off the bench to give the Dogs instant offense in the second quarter as he bottomed out a pair of 3-point jumpers, during a 9-0 CHS run, which trimmed the deficit to 16-15 following his second 3-ball which came at the 4:18 marker.
Camden took its first lead of the evening when a Sumpter layin was followed by three Council free throws --- after his being followed on a 3-point attempt --- to give the Dogs a 22-20 lead. Stroman would send the two sides to the locker room locked at 22 with his 10-footer in the closing 20 seconds of the half.
After Hicklin’s scoring 13 points in the game’s first 13 minutes, he had just three from that point as Wilson became a force inside for the dogs.
“I told D.J. after the game that he grew up tonight,” McKie said. “He got big on the boards. He blocked shots. We just need to get him more involved in the offense. He played a great defensive game, but we need to work on getting him the ball because he is a good offensive player.”
With Sumpter opening the second half with a pair of jumpers, CHS took its largest lead of the night when Council found the mark with a 3-ball to make it 28-25 with 4:10 left in the third. After LR went up 29-28, a Council trey and a tip-in from sophomore teammate Chase Truesdale were matched by baskets from Edmond and Cedric Davis, the latter of which came via a turnover, to tie things at 33 heading into the fourth quarter.
A pair of Davis free throws was answered by a Wilson drive to kick off the final stanza. After Hicklin returned the lead to LR using a back door cut, Wilson struck again with a tip-in to square things at 37 with 5:50 to play. The Diamond Hornets would go on top 39-37 on Edmond’s five-footer with 4:55 left. A Cooke free throw cut the lead to one five seconds later, setting up a wild final three-plus minutes of play.
Council led all scorers with 18 points while, after a quick start, Hicklin finished the night with 15 points.
“I told Josh that he’s a fourth-year senior and that he should be used to all this pressure after having seen teams like Hartsville in the past,” McKie said of Council. “When it’s crunch time, he has to go get the ball for us and try to make a play. Good players make plays at the end of the game and, Josh tried to do that for us. We just couldn’t get the ball to him at the end of the game.”

LR (47): Jared Richardson 1 2-2 4, Vincent Hicklin 6 3-7 15, Marcus Edmond 4 0-0 9, Cedric Davis 1 3-6 5, Brandon Stroman 3 2-2 8, Alonzo Gibson 2 2-4 6. Totals: 16 12-21 47
CHS (43): Josh Sumpter 4 0-0 9, Josh Council 6 5-8 18, Tony Doby 1 0-0 2, Denzel Martin 2 0-0 6, Chase Truesdale 1 0-0 2, D.J. Wilson 2 0-0 4, Alexx Cooke 0 2-4 2. Totals: 16 7-13 43
Score by quarters: First: LR, 15-6; Halftime: 22-22; Third: 33-33; Three-point goals: LR 1 (Edmond); CHS 4 (Martin 2, Council, Sumpter)

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