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Bracket Busters

Fourth-seed Dogs take wind out of Cyclones

Posted: February 21, 2014 11:45 a.m.
Updated: February 24, 2014 5:00 a.m.
C-I photo by Tom Didato/

CAMDEN’S DELTON BRADFORD MUSCLES his way inside of Chester’s John Gore for two of his career-best 25 points in the Bulldogs’ 71-69 first round AAA state playoff win over the Cyclones on Thursday.

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CHESTER -- Time to add some new names to the old marquee.
For the better portion of the second half of the Region 4-AAA season, the Camden basketball team has been headlined by Josh Sumter ... with a little help from his friends.
When Chester decided to make somebody else from Camden beat them in Thursday’s AAA Upper State playoff opener, Bulldog seniors Delton Bradford and Alexx Cooke started hogging up some of the spotlight.
Receiving a career-best 25 points from Bradford and 10 fourth quarter points from Cooke, the fourth seed Bulldogs overcame a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to knock off the Region 3 champions, 71-69.
Camden headed to Greenville High on Saturday to take on a third seed Red Raider squad, which defeated second-seeded Seneca Thursday night, 57-51.
Following a warm bus ride and a game played inside an even hotter Chester gym, Camden head coach Ron McKie admitted to almost being overcome by the combination of the heat, excitement and tension of a frantic final minute of a game in which his team took the lead for keeps with 60 seconds left when Cooke lofted a left-handed bank shot from five feet out to give the guests the lead for keeps at 67-65.
“I got light-headed a few times at the end jumping up a down,” said a red-faced McKie moments after the emotional victory. “It’s a good thing my son, (assistant coach Ron McKie Jr.) pulled me back down and gave me some water.”
Camden’s comeback would not be complete until after a Sumpter free throw with 4.9 seconds left was followed by a desperation 25-foot heave from Chester’s Jarrett Rembert badly missed its target.
Just seven minutes earlier, it appeared as if Camden’s season might be coming to an end as the eighth-ranked Cyclones stretched their lead to a game-high 12 points after Tommy Sanders opened the fourth quarter with a drive through the paint for two followed by a 3-point basket to put the hosts on top, 60-48 with 7:11 left. Mc-Kie used a quick time out to settle down his squad for what turned out to be a game-winning rally.
“I told them, ‘This is a playoff game and team’s are going to make runs on you and we’ll get a run back,’” he said of his talk. “‘Just be patient, take care of the ball, give them one shot and we can probably climb back into it because I didn’t think they could keep shooting like they did.’
“It kind of worked out for us.”
That “kind of” went to the tune of a 16-3 run fueled by Bradford and Cooke, who scored 14 of those points in the four-plus minute spree. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Bradford was a match-up nightmare for Chester while Cooke came up huge down the stretch.
The game-changing run opened with Bradford going inside for an easy pair. Cooke then sandwiched a Bradford 12-foot jumper from the elbow with a pair of 3-balls to draw the guests within 61-58 with 5:15 left in the game. Seconds later, Cooke stepped in front of a Cyclone, made the steal and went in for a layup to close the gap to 61-60 with 4:55 showing on the clock as Chester head coach Sebastian Hopkins quickly called a time out.
Camden grabbed the lead after Cooke matched a pair of Cyclone free throws with two of his own. A key play in this game came on Tony Doby’s long inbounds pass from under the Chester basket to a streaking Sumpter who went in for the go-ahead layin and a 64-63 Bulldog lead with 2:30 left.
A Doby free throw was followed by a Sanders drive for a pair which evening things at 65 with 100 ticks left in the game clock. Forty seconds later, Cooke found a seam in the Chester defense, went into the lane and sent up a left-handed bank shot to put the Dogs on top, 67-65.
Cooke’s Allen Iverson impersonation --- on both ends of the floor --- in the fourth quarter would later bring a smile to his coach’s face.
“When he hits outside shots, drives and handles the ball like that and plays like a senior point guard should …,” McKie said of Cooke’s impact on the game and the Bulldogs. “I’ve told him all season that when he has his best games, we win. We can’t rely on Josh or Delton to do it all the time. When you have that third offensive threat, it really hurts teams.
“That’s a big shot in the arm for us, offensively, when Alexx does that.”
Chester closed to within 67-66 with a Tysheim Wilson free throw with 56.1 seconds left. The senior missed the second of the two-shot foul. After relying on the long jumper early on, Camden continued to pound the ball inside the Bradford who, with 41.1 seconds remaining, took a Cooke feed on the break and went in for a pair and the accompanying free throw which put the Dogs on top, 70-66.
McKie said he thought that if Camden could establish the inside game, the Dogs would have a chance to pull off the upset. After a halftime talk on that subject, the guests seemed to get the message.
“Going into the game, we had a good scouting report (on Chester),” he said. “My old player, Darrel Smith, called me and told me because he watched them and the Dreher coach gave me some good stuff on them. We knew we had to get it inside and beat their pressure. That was what worried me.
“We thought if we got it to half-court and could throw it inside that we could hurt them. That’s what we did. Delton played a good game.”
The Cyclones, with little inside game of which to speak, kept hoisting up threes and Camden continued to grab the rebounds. A missed foul shot by the Dogs with 25.9 seconds to play kept the door open and John Gore tightened things with a 25-foot rocket with 14.8 seconds to play to get the hosts back to within one at 70-69.
Camden missed another free throw followed by Quinn Caldwell’s 3-point shot glancing off the rim only to be hauled in by Sumpter with 4.9 seconds to play. He was quickly fouled and hit the front end with Chester grabbing the missed second shot and calling a time out with 3.6 seconds to play. Needing to travel the length of the floor, the Cyclones were met by pressure defense as Rembert’s shot at the buzzer never having a chance.
This game started out like a shooting gallery with each side looking outside the 3-point arc for their points. Chester received two treys from Gore and another from Wilson in the first quarter. Camden countered with Sumpter knocking down three from distance with Bradford stepping outside to get one while adding a pair of stickbacks in a first quarter which ended with Chester holding a 19-18 lead.
Sumpter scored 11 first quarter points before Chester went to a box and one on him, for a time, in order to slow him down. The six-foot guard finished with 14 points.
The Cyclones were not timid about taking shots from well-beyond the arc, but used their full-court pressure defense to get layups from Sanders and Wilson to extending their lead to 31-23 with less than three minutes to play in the first half.
Camden, which was whistled for seven fouls before Chester was called for its first, ran into early foul trouble with Cooke picking up his third midway in the second quarter. Senior Denzel Martin filled in for his classmate and his two 3-point jumpers kept the Dogs within striking distance in a first half which ended with a Bradford jump hook to make it a 34-29 Cyclone lead at the break.
McKie said his team got caught up in Chester’s 3-point barrage and started rushing shots, especially in the second quarter.
“I told them to get the ball inside,” McKie said of his theme for the evening. “They had that zone and they kind of packed it in and challenged us. Denzel came in and loosed it up with some threes. When they went man, though, I said, ‘Hey, this might give us a shot.’
“I just told them, especially at halftime, to get the ball inside. We finally figured it out and that was where we hurt them.”
The 3-point shots stopped falling for Chester, which made five in the first half, in the second in which it made just three. The Dogs, however, went inside often and Bradford answered with consecutive traditional 3-point play, the second which drew the guests to within 40-37 with 5:33 left in the third.
Trailing, 50-41 with less than three minutes to go in the third, the Dogs used a short jumper from sophomore center Tyrone Kelly, a layin off the break from Jordan Sumpter who then went deep for a trey to make it 52-46 with 1:21 left in a third quarter which closed when Kelly’s layin in the final 30 seconds made it 55-48.
What Camden was able to do was control the glass. Chester had four second-chance points compared to the Dogs’ receiving four baskets alone from Bradford, who scored 10 points on those putbacks with free throws.
“We’re a good rebounding team if we get aggressive,” McKie said. “We got on the boards. It kind of showed because we limited them to one shot.”
Chester, a team which had played as many as 11 players in sending waves of men at teams, had just six players find their way into the scoring column led by Sanders’ 24 and another 23 from Wilson. The Dogs countered with 25 from Bradford, who did not start the game, 14 from Josh Sumpter and 10 from Cooke.
Thanks to Bradford’s 25, Camden received 39 points from its non-starters with Martin and Kelly going for eight and six points, respectively. The 71 points were the most the Bulldogs have scored in a single game this season, much to the surprise and delight of their head coach.
“We wanted to keep the score in the 40s or low 50s,” McKie said before stepping outside to get some air. “I didn’t think we’d score 71 points, to be honest with you. We’ve been hovering in the 40s the last couple games.
“But the way they play defense, they gave us some opportunities to drive to the basket and they gave us opportunities to throw it inside. I just felt that if we could get the ball past half-court, that we had a good chance of scoring.
“Overall, 71 points is good for us … 71 points is great for us.”

Chester (69): John Gore 3 3-4 12, Tysheim Wilson 9 0-1 23, Quan Caldwell 3 1-4 7, Tommy Sanders 10 3-7 24, Malik Williams 0 1-2 1, Wallace Cook 0 2-2 2 Totals: 16 10-20 69
Camden (71): Josh Sumpter 5 1-2 14, Delton Bradford 10 4-6 25, Denzel Martin 3 0-0 8, Tony Doby 1 1-2 3, Tyrone Kelly 2 2-2 6, Jordan Sumpter 2 0-1 5, Alexx Cooke 3 2-2 10 Totals: 26 10-15 71
Score by quarters: First: Chester, 19-18; Halftime: Chester, 34-29; Third: Chester, 55-48; Three-point goals: Camden 9 (Josh Sumpter 3, Martin 2, Cooke 2, Bradford, Jordan Sumpter), Chester 8 (Wilson 4, Gore 3, Sanders)


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