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Dogs clamp down on Knights in 35-20 win

Posted: January 26, 2011 2:03 p.m.
Updated: January 28, 2011 5:00 a.m.

CAMDEN'S JAMARI FERGUSON cuts to the basket during Tuesday's win over Crestwood at the Coach Michael G. Culp Court.

Comfort is knowing that even though your team only scores one fourth quarter basket, you still win a game by double figures.
While he will never admit to doing everything but kicking back and sipping on a cup of water during the fourth quarter of his team’s 35-20 win over visiting Crestwood, Camden head basketball coach Ron McKie could not have felt too nervous on the bench Tuesday night at the Coach Michael G. Culp Court.

Let’s face it, there was no reason to think that after having scored 18 points in the first 24 minutes of the Region 6-AAA contest that the visiting Knights would explode for, at least, 14 in the final eight minutes to overtake the Bulldogs, who snapped a three-game skid while improving to 2-3 in conference play with the victory.

The 35-point total equaled the Dogs’ (8-4, 2-3) high-point output which they reached in three losses suffered a week ago. For better or for worse, McKie said, this is the new reality for his team, which will need to rely on its defense if CHS is to make a return to the state playoffs.

“That’s kind of where we are defensively,” McKie said of his team’s recent spate of low-scoring contests.

“We’re not going to put up a lot of points and I don’t know if we have enough depth to press, full-court. We extend our match-up (zone) when we have to and we try to push the ball when we have those opportunities. But we don’t want to get into a fast-paced game because we don’t shoot the ball too well. We want to limit (the opponents’) possessions because they are limiting ours.”

Using a simple defensive philosophy which was to clog things in the middle, limit the Knights (2-14, 0-4) to one shot and let the guests shoot as often as they wished from beyond the 3-point arc, McKie’s troops carried out that strategy. Crestwood managed just seven baskets from the field with sophomore guard Seth Fitzgerald being held to one bucket from the field.

In the first meeting between the two sides, Fitzgerald came off the bench to score in double digits in what turned out to be a 54-31 Camden win. McKie said he wanted to make sure his players knew where Fitzgerald was on offense when he checked into the contest.

“Basically, it was let them shoot it beyond the arc and limit them to just one shot,” McKie said of the simple defensive strategy.

“When we played them the first time, they struggled from the outside. That little left-hander (Seth Fitzgerald) can shoot the ball well. He hit some threes against us the first time that we played them so, our defensive philosophy was if we match up with him in our match-up zone, don’t squeeze and come off the shooter when penetration comes your way. We did a good job with that in the first half, but we got a little lazy with moving our feet inside and we didn’t box out as well as we needed to in the second half.”

Camden clamped down on defense from the start, in limiting the guests to a free throw while using baskets from four players to take a 9-1 lead after a first quarter which ended when Camden point guard Darelle Smith, who led all scorers with eight points, hit a jumper from the foul line after his defender walked away from him in the closing four seconds.

The Knights would get as close as they would come to Camden when Xavier Bolden put back a missed shot to close the gap to 14-7 with 2:11 left in a first half which closed with Smith banking home an eight-footer at the 1:31 mark before putting his defender on his hip and driving the lane for an easy basket, off the delay game, with five seconds left to give the Dogs an 18-7 lead at the break.

Smith, a 5-foot-8 junior, has carried more than his own weight in the scoring column, recently, while directing the offense. He has quickly gained the trust of his coach, whose biggest concern regarding Smith is his getting worn down by constant defensive pressure in games on a player who played all 32 minutes Tuesday.

“He’s probably the most comfortable player we have with the ball in his hands and he is also our best penetrator,” McKie said of Smith.

“Other teams are wearing him out. I have to hold him out of some practices or he won’t make it through the whole season. But he just keeps getting better every game. He’s a tough kid and that’s why I want the ball in his hands the entire game.”

Camden scored all the points it would need to win this game when Tayler Workman opened the second half with a steal and a layin before Smith found him alone under the basket with a feed which put the Dogs on top, 22-7, with 6:45 left in the third stanza. The Knights would mount a minor threat by going on a 9-2 run, only interrupted by a stickback from Bulldog center Jerrod Beaufort who drew praise from McKie for his effort.

“Jerrod came to play tonight. He was all over the place,” McKie said of Beaufort. “He crashed the boards, he cut well and moved well on offense; he hustled down the court and got a tip-back one time and got in the passing lanes. He came ready to play tonight and, after the game, I told him what a good job he did. We have to get that kind of effort from everybody, at least on defense.”

Camden led, 31-18, after three quarters and held a 31-20 advantage after a basket from Crestwood’s Garian Williams. With 4:18 remaining, the Bulldogs got a trey from Jamari Ferguson to go on top, 34-20. The basket came out of a mini-delay game which the hosts employed through most of the fourth quarter.

“It was nice to have that lead because we haven’t had that in our last few games,” McKie said with a smile.

“I thought we did a good job of not forcing our shots when we had that big lead. We made them play defense and we threw a lot of passes. We were just waiting to see what they gave us and try to take advantage of it. They got a little frustrated and it got a little physical at the end, but I told our kids that I was glad to see that we didn’t rush down the court and jack up the first shot we saw on offense. We made them play defense and we made them take their time on offense.”

The win kept Camden in the hunt for one of the four region playoff berths. A loss in this one would have crippled the Dogs’ post-season hopes.

“It was huge. We’re just trying to take one step up the region ladder at a time,” McKie said after the victory. “We’ve beaten Crestwood twice; now, we have to aim for the next team above us. We have to take it one step, one game at a time, that way our kids can focus on our next opponent and come ready to play and know that each possession of every game is important to us.

 “Defensively, we still get after it and we’re still playing well. That’s our strong point. Now, we just have to get some shots to fall. If we can get our shots to fall, maybe, we can move up a little higher (in the region standings.)”

Crestwood (20): Xavier Bolden 1 0-1 2, Jarvis Hudson 0 1-2 1, Kardell Addison 1 0-0 2, Harry Titus 1 0-0 2, Willie Glover 0 2-2 2, Seth Fitzgerald 1 1-2 3, Michael Mandel 0 2-2 2, Reginald Bradford 1 0-0 2, Garian Williams 2 0-0 4. Totals: 7 6-9 20

Camden (35): Josh Council 2 0-0 6, Hamid Mathis 1 0-0 2, Jamari Ferguson 1 1-4 4, Fidel Wise 2 0-0 4, Darelle Smith 4 0-0 8, Kelton Bradford 1 0-0 2, Jerrod Beaufort 2 1-2 5, Tayler Workman 2 0-0 4. Totals: 15 2-6 35

Score by quarters: First: Camden, 9-1; Halftime: Camden, 18-7; Third: Camden, 31-18; Three-point goals: Crestwood none; Camden 3 (Council 2, Ferguson)




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