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Spartans reel off three victories in as many nights

NC falls to Buford

Posted: December 14, 2010 4:54 p.m.
Updated: December 15, 2010 5:00 a.m.
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THOMAS FLOWERS SCORED 12 points in North Central’s loss to Buford on Friday night.

If Speedy Johnson were a betting man, he would have been richer this week than he was a week ago.

Johnson, the head basketball coach at the Camden Military Academy, said following his team’s loss in game one, that he felt his Spartans would be 3-1 at the end of the second week of the season rather than having an 0-4 record.

Three games and as many victories in as many days later, Johnson looked like a prophet as CMA beat Dubbo (Australia), Lewisville and Hammond in a trio of games played in less than 48 hours.

“If you had told me before the start of the season that we would be 3-1 after four games, especially after last year,” Johnson said, “I would have told you that I would take that record every day. The only thing that bothers me, right now, is that we don’t play another game until Jan. 4, but that’s all right.”

Last Thursday, the Australian team brought the biggest high school team which Johnson had ever seen into the White Field House. The visitors’ front line included a 6-foot-11 freshman, who the CMA coach said, wears a size 24 sneaker. Alongside him was a pair of 6-foot-9 forwards.

By evening’s end, CMA would hold on for a 53-51 victory.

“I thought their size would bother us more than it did,” Johnson said. “I challenged our inside guys to hit the boards and they did a good job; we out-quicked them.”

CMA hit 35 percent of its shots from the field. The hosts were led by Giovanni Arrendell’s 21 points while Andrew Holbert had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“We played better and we played hard in this game,” Johnson said following his team’s annual international contest.
One night later, the Spartans hosted and topped Region 3-A member Lewisville, 65-58, in a contest in which the hosts led by as many as 27 points at one stage of the contest.

Johnson said he was worried as to how his team would respond playing the night after their two-point victory. Trying to give his starters a rest, Johnson saw his second unit struggle when he put them on the floor.

“Our second team couldn’t keep a huge lead,” he said. “Our second team has to learn how to keep a lead when they get one. Hopefully, they learned their lesson after this game.”

Holbert led the way for the winners with 18 points to go along with nine rebounds. Arrendell was next with 17 points while Lugoff’s Bobby Gary had 15 points to go along with four of the hosts’ seven blocks.

Saturday afternoon, the Spartans closed the 2010 portion of their schedule by traveling to Columbia to meet Hammond and returning to campus with a 70-61 victory.

“This was probably the best game that we’ve played so far this season,” Johnson said.

CMA led, 20-7, after one quarter, 41-21 at the half and 56-37 heading into the final quarter.

“Again,” Johnson said of a night in which his team played man-to-man full-court pressure defense, “we weren’t able to keep a big lead at the end of the game.”

Gary, a sophomore, enjoyed his best all-around game of the young season as he scored nine points to go along with 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks.

“I’m probably harder on Bobby than I am on any other player on our team,” Johnson said. “He wants to keep other guys on our team involved, but he also needs to start looking for his shot. The same thing goes for (John) Cornette.”

Holbert paced CMA with 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four blocks. He was eight-of-nine from the free throw stripe. Arrendell added 11 points.

As she watched CMA in action, Johnson’s wife told her husband that she had seen a team like this before.

“My wife told me that this team reminds her of the team’s we had at Bethune,” he said. “I told her to back up a bit, because we aren’t there, yet. But we’re getting better every day.

“The thing that our guys are doing is that they have stopped worrying about me yelling from the sidelines and they are just going out there, having fun and playing hard.”

North Central drops pair: Both the North Central girls’ and boys’ basketball teams fell to 2-3 on the season as they were swept by homestanding Buford on Friday night.

The NC girls fell to the Lady Yellow Jackets, 50-41, while the boys were tripped up by the hosts, 78-55.

In the opening game, Mitch Lowder’s Lady Knights led 16-5 after one quarter and carried a 25-22 edge into the locker room at intermission. Buford cut the lead to 33-32 after three stanzas before going on an 18-9 fourth quarter run.

Alexis Robinson and Brianna Brown scored eight points each to lead NC.

In the nightcap, Buford raced to a 22-9 first quarter lead and extended their margin to 43-25 in pulling away from Chad Dixon’s charges, which trimmed the deficit to 59-42 after three stanzas.

After turning the ball over 44 times in their first meeting with Buford, the Knights coughed up the ball on 29 occasions on Friday.

“The turnovers hurt us. But rebounding killed us," Dixon said. “They dominated us on the boards, 47 to 28, and 21 of theirs were offensive rebounds. We only had seven offensive rebounds. Those two things were the death of us in this game.”

Dixon said the Yellow Jackets are an athletic team, but they did not hold a decided size advantage over the Knights.

They just did a tremendous job of controlling the boards,” Dixon said.

NC’s slow start out of the box was due to its hitting just two of 14 shots from the field in the opening quarter. That set the tone for the remainder of the contest.

“We took pretty good shots, but we just could not hit our shots,” Dixon said. “That and our turnovers certainly did not help us as we got ourselves into an early hole. We made a little run in the third quarter, but we just couldn’t catch up.”

Tevin Alexander led the way for NC with 13 points while and Christian Henderson and Thomas Flowers each added a dozen points.

This week’s games: Camden will play host to McBee tonight in a twinbill starting at 6 p.m. On Friday, the CHS boys, only, will travel to meet McBee in a yet-to-be-determined starting time.

On Thursday and Friday, the CHS girls will play in the Mid-Carolina Christmas Tournament.

Also on Friday, Lugoff-Elgin heads to meet Spring Valley while North Central is also on the road to take on Andrew Jackson. Both doubleheaders start with the girl’s game at 6 p.m.

On Saturday night, the Lugoff-Elgin girls basketball team will head to South Pointe High School in Rock Hill to play in the Stallion Classic. The four-team event will conclude next Monday.

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