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Bulldogs' title victory is hardly a Classic

Camden holds off undermanned Knights, 52-46

Posted: December 31, 2010 10:32 a.m.
Updated: January 3, 2011 5:00 a.m.
C-I photo by Tom Didato/

CAMDEN’S FIDEL WISE CRASHES over the back of North Central’s Chad Hampton as the two players battle for a rebound in Thursday night’s championship game of the Ahlstrom Nonwovens/May Plant Credit Union Carolina Classic held at The Castle in Boonetown.

He and his team will take the trophy, but there were plenty of things which Camden head basketball coach Ron McKie hopes will stay in Boonetown.

For the fourth time in the past five years, the Bulldogs captured the Ahlstrom Nonwovens/May Plant Credit Union Carolina Classic. This time, however, it was hardly the way in which McKie wanted his team to be headed into the start of Region 6-AAA play which opens for Camden Friday at Crestwood.

Happy to leave North Central with the championship crown, there was little else for McKie to be smiling about following Thursday’s 52-46 victory over the hosts, which dressed out just eight players, including a junior varsity call-up.

In a game of runs, Camden (6-1) used a 19-9 spree between the third and fourth quarters to rally from what was an eight-point deficit. Once with a seven-point cushion and in a delay mode in the final four minutes of the contest, the young guests seemed to lose their composure.

As he watched his team over-pass their way into a series of late-game turnovers, McKie was forced to burn a time out to try and get his squad re-focused.

"We have to do a better job of holding onto the ball. When we were holding onto the ball near the end of the game, we kept forcing and forcing it. I had to call a time out to tell them to dribble out of the lane if at all closes up," he said.

"We were six (points) ahead and we don’t have to score. Our kids were playing like we were six behind. I thought we were smarter than that. We didn’t do a good job with that tonight."

North Central came ever-so-close to making this a one-point game in the waning seconds of the contest, only to see Brady Brister’s 3-point try hit virtually every part of the rim, only to lip out with 12 seconds remaining and the Knights (3-6) trailing, 50-46.

Brister’s miss was collected by Camden guard Darelle Smith, who was fouled with 2.2 ticks left in the game clock. The missed free throw was rebounded by Jamari Ferguson, whose final stickback was the Dogs’ eighth of the evening.

As he watched Brister’s shot, NC head coach Chad Dixon thought his team was on the brink of having one last shot to win its own tourney title.

"That was discouraging," he said of the situation. "We thought if we hit that shot, we still have a chance.

"We were looking for a quick basket from Tevin (Alexander) inside, but if he didn’t have a good look to kick it back out to Brady, who we told to take the shot. That was really our third option. He shot it with confidence and he shot it well, it just wouldn’t drop.

"It was sickening that it hit every part of the rim, but wouldn’t drop."

Sickening would be a good adjective to describe McKie’s feeling as he watched NC used a coast-to-coast layin from Alexander, who collected a CHS miss, to give the hosts a 29-28 lead at the break. The basket came in the closing five seconds of the opening half.

"I was disappointed in the first half, with how we moved our feet on defense," he said. "We let them drive too many times. The last play of the first half typified that. Alexander gets the rebound and dribbles the length of the court and we just get out of his way. It boggles my mind why we do that stuff."

Things only got worse for the Dogs as NC opened the second half with a 10-4 run to pull out to a 40-32 lead. Christian Henderson got NC off to a strong second as he opened the third stanza by bottoming out a 3-point shot. Alexander then hit two free throws to make it 34-28 with 6:45 left in the quarter.

CHS pulled to within 34-32 following putbacks from Smith and Jerrod Beaufort. But the Knights retaliated, receiving a traditional 3-point play from senior guard Chad Hampton and another 3-ball from Henderson to push the advantage to 40-32 with 3:20 showing on the clock.

The Bulldogs would turn things around over the course of the next four minutes, closing the third quarter with an 11-0 rally which started with a Bryton McEachin layin. Josh Council, who was named the tourney’s most valuable player after having scored 37 points in two games, then dropped in a trey on a third-chance basket. Ferguson, who was named to the all-tourney team, converted on both ends of a traditional 3-point play before stepping outside the arch to drain a three in the final 40 seconds as the guests carried a 43-40 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Dogs used a pair of Smith layins and a Beaufort putback to wrap around a Brister layin to take a 49-49 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the contest.

In a game of runs, Camden’s rush won out over that of NC, whose, came early in the second half. While his team scored just six fourth quarter points, Dixon said fatigue did not play a factor as much as Camden’s going into a delay game which milked the clock in the closing half of the final stanza.

"I don’t know that fatigue made a difference," he said of his seven-man rotation. "That run they made in the third quarter and into the fourth was what made the difference tonight. It was a game of runs and they hurt us more with theirs than we hurt them with ours earlier in the game."

NC would get a pair of free throws from Alexander, who was selected to the all-tourney team, and a five-foot baseline jumper from the 6-foot-1 senior with 38 seconds to play to close the gap to 49-46. Nineteen seconds later, Smith made it a two-possession game for CHS with a made free throw.

Still, McKie shook his head in disbelief as he watched his offense become its own worst enemy in spite of the advantages of both the lead and the clock.

"It’s real frustrating when you can’t make shots under the basket when you are wide-open. And the passes … oh, my gosh; (NC) was just sitting in a zone and we would just throw the ball to them," he said.

"It’s frustrating because our region is going to be real tough again this year and if we turn the ball over like we did tonight in those games, it’s over. It will be over by halftime."

Camden used its size advantage to jump to a 7-3 lead in a game which opened with Council making one of his nine treys in the two-night event. NC showed it could score from distance with Justin Black getting a wide-open look on a trey and finding the mark. A Jeremy Fowler stickback followed as the hosts went on top for the first time at 13-11 with 35 seconds left in a first quarter which ended in a 15-15 deadlock.

NC came out and packed in its 2-3 zone set, which took the inside game away from Camden. It is a set which has given the Dogs’ offense problems all season while being one which the Knights have gotten used to in a short period of time due to a short bench.

"That’s one adjustment that we’ve had to make since we’ve had some folks who chose to no longer be with our team. We like to get up and down the floor and early in the season, we were able to go with ‘five in and five out,’" Dixon said.

"Our kids have adjusted well to playing more zone defense to give them a little bit more rest instead of playing full-court or half-court man. I think the zone is working well for us."

McKie said he expects his team to see plenty more zone defenses once conference play begins.

"They packed that zone in tight and we had trouble getting the ball inside," he said of the Knights. "They gave us some outside shots, but they weren’t falling. We may struggle offensively in the region."

NC answered a Council trey early in the second with trifectas from Black and Henderson, the latter of which put NC back on top at 23-22 with 4:08 left before intermission. A Smith layin and a 15-footer from Council returned the lead to Camden, which held it at 28-27 after a Delton Bradford bucket from point-blank range. That lead, however went by the boards thanks to Alexander’s full-court romp.

With CHS using diamond and one defense to try and limit the damage inflicted by Alexander, Dixon told his perimeter players to be ready for the kick out pass and not to be afraid to take the open shot, if it was there.

"We tell Justin Black, Christian Henderson and Brady Brister that if we can get the ball inside to Tevin, get it to him; and if he doesn’t have a shot, he will kick it back out for a three. That’s our second read; if you have the open three, take a shot," he said. "We’ve been pretty effective doing that as of late, which gives our offense another dimension."

Asked if he gave thought to trying to tire NC out with full-court pressure and turning this into a full-court contest, McKie said this night was not designed for that. Instead, it was a casting call to see which players would see court time in league play and which ones would be relegated to more time on the bench.

"Right now," he said, "we’re trying to find out who can play off the bench and I didn’t want to run in a lot of kids. I wanted to do that because, like I told them, this may be the last time (to prove themselves.) This was kind of like an audition. I have to know who I can go to in region play and, I think we know who they are."

 

CHS (52):

NC (46):

 

Score by quarters:

First: 15-15; Halftime: NC, 29-28; Third: CHS, 43-40; Three-point goals: CHS 4 (Council 3, Ferguson); NC 6 (Henderson 3, Black 2, Brister)
Brady Brister 2 0-0 5, Justin Black 4 0-0 10, Chad Hampton 3 1-1 7, Jeremy Fowler 1 1-2 3, Clarence Williams 2 0-0 2, Christian Henderson 3 0-0 9, Tevin Alexander 2 6-8 10. Totals: 16 8-11 46
Josh Council 4 0-0 11, Darelle Smith 5 1-3 11, Jamari Ferguson 6 1-1 14, Channing Wood 3 0-0 6, Martez Vaughn 1 0-0 2, Delton Bradford 1 0-0 2, Jerrod Beaufort 2 0-0 4, Bryton McEachin 1 0-2 2. Totals: 23 2-6 52

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