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Dogs lose double-digit lead, hold on to down Cavs, 50-49

Posted: February 8, 2016 4:02 p.m.
Updated: February 9, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I photo/

CAMDEN CENTER TYRONE KELLY goes in for two of his nine points in Friday’s win over visiting Richland Northeast which gave the Bulldogs a share of third place in Region 4-AAA.

How long can you hold your breath?

For Camden boys’ basketball coach Ron McKie, it’s safe to say that me can go without taking in oxygen for at least 2.6 seconds. That is, approximately, how long it took for the last-gasp, 60-plus foot heave from Richland Northeast’s James Fuller-Davis to strike the wire atop the basketball goal at Camden High for the shot to be ruled dead by the officials.

It was only then that the Bulldogs’ 50-49 lead over RNE was secured as the hosts climbed into a third-place tie in Region 4-AAA heading into tonight’s regular season finale at Chapin. Both Camden and RNE stand at 4-5 in league play with the Cavaliers closing their season tonight against second-place Lower Richland.

In a third quarter in which Camden looked to have taken control of the game and carried a seemingly healthy 41-25 lead into the fourth quarter, the visiting Cavaliers knotted things at 49 with a Timothy Cheeseboro stickback with 16 seconds left in the game. CHS did not help itself in the final stanza with careless ball handling mistakes, questionable shot selection and struggling from the free throw line down the stretch.

The fact that senior guard Taylor Kelly fouled out with 3:18 left --- and with the CHS lead at 45-35 --- took away the Bulldogs’ strongest and most experienced ball-handler as the Cavs increased their defensive intensity with a suffocating full-court press.

Following the basket from the 6-foot-6 Cheeseboro, Camden had another chance and time left on the clock. The last play went to 5-foot-10 sophomore Jericho Murphy who went inside and was fouled on his shot. The officials ordered to have 2.6 seconds put back the game clock which had run out in the confusion of the final play as Murphy toed the line for the second time in the final three minutes. He missed the front end of a one-and-one situation with 2:38 to play.

After missing the first of his two free throws, Murphy knocked down the second as RNE spurned using a time out in hoping to catch the Dogs celebrating the one-point lead. It would be Murphy’s only point of the night.

With the CHS lead at one, Bulldog guard Devin Martin would dive in an attempt to knock down the inbounds pass which landed in the hands of Fuller-Davis whose high-arching heave looked to be on line before glancing off the wire which supports the goal to the top of the gym ceiling.

Moments after his team nearly lost the game and the lead, McKie headed for the back door to the CHS gym in order to get some cold, fresh air. Having young players trying to fill Kelly’s shoes in crunch time did not work out well he said.

“Some of these sophomores get rattled and that’s a quick team we played tonight,” McKie said. “Like I’ve said all year long, we don’t handle pressure very well and tonight was another example of that. Just thank the Lord that we had a 16-point lead when they started with all that pressure because, if it started with all that pressure because, if it was a close game, it probably would have ended up different for us.”

In a game which started with an agonizingly deliberate pace, the hosts picked things up late in the first half with back-to-back baskets from Jonathan Leet and Kelly giving CHS a 19-16 lead with less than two minutes to play before intermission. A baseline drive from RNE’s Nigel Chaney was answered by a 3-point jumper from the top of the key from Bulldog senior Hyman Mathis with less than three seconds showing on the clock as the Dogs carried a 22-18 lead into the locker room at the break.

Camden trailed, 7-6, after the first quarter and was behind by as many as five points after the Cavs opened the second stanza with baskets from Chaney and Fuller-Davis to make it 11-6.

McKie said he was comfortable with the slow pace of play at the start and expected as much from the visitors who erased a double-digit lead and beat Camden in their first meeting last month.

“They played us a low-scoring game the last time,” McKie said. “I talked to some other coaches who said they like to press (RNE.) We’re just not a good pressing team and I didn’t want to give them layups. I thought we could go to a triangle and two, like we did in the second half, to slow them down.”

RNE closed the gap to 24-23 with an Alex Caldwell 3-point jumper with 6:48 in the third which served as a wake-up call to the Bulldog offense which ended the quarter on a 17-2 run.

The rally started with a 15-foot jumper from Camden center Tyrone Kelly who would later get out on the break a throw down a ferocious two-handed dunk for a 30-23 lead which drew a time out from RNE head coach Aaron Lucas in an attempt to break the hosts’ momentum.

Camden returned from the time out and received a 3-point basket and a short jumper both coming from sophomore forward Donovan Belton who led the Dogs with 11 points. Only a pair of Deryk Paulk free throws interrupted the run which trimmed Camden’s lead to 35-25 with 3:44 to go in the third.

The Dogs closed the quarter with six unanswered points coming in an 80-second span. The first pair came on a Taylor Kelly drive which led to Mathis putting back a missed shot before he drove the land for a pair to make it 41-25 with 2:10 left in the third. Neither side would score in the closing 130 seconds.

“We hit some shots and they missed a lot of shots,” McKie said of the third quarter. “They went cold and we were able to get a big lead. And, I’m glad we had that lead because it sure shrunk fast.”

While RNE went with the press to start the fourth quarter, the Cavs would ratchet things up after Taylor Kelly was tagged with his fourth personal foul with 6:31 to play. A strip and a layin by Fuller-Davis kicked off the comeback as the Cavs trailed, 41-28. A little more than a minute after that, a series of offensive mistakes on Camden’s part saw the lead shrink to 41-35 with 4:09 to play.

McKie said that on a night in which his team did what he wanted on the defensive end of the floor, the CHS offense was out of sorts in the fourth quarter when Taylor Kelly went to the bench.

“It wasn’t our defense, so much, which let them back in the game as it was our offense,” he said. “We kept giving them the ball and they kept making layups. I wasn’t upset so much with our defense as much as I was with our offense and our passing skills. That’s kind of haunted us all year.”

A pair of layins from sophomore Malik Green, the second of which came with 3:23 left, seemed to have put the hosts back on track with the lead back in twin figures at 45-35.

RNE continued to push back and used a 7-0 rally capped by a layin from Iman Goode and a Fuller-Davis 3-ball to close the gap to 45-42 with 2:18 left. A Green free throw at the 1:53 juncture pushed the lead to 46-42 only for a Cheeseboro layup with 1:46 left cutting it to a pair.

Playing with the lead, McKie said the plan was to try and milk the clock but not passing up open looks. The Dogs, though, did not possess the ball long enough on too many occasions to put that plan into effect in the closing run.

“I wanted them to be patient but still be aggressive,” he said of his instructions to his team during fourth quarter time outs. “When you stop trying to score is kind of when you start throwing the ball away and you sometimes end up taking some bad shots. We took some bad shots when I thought we could have run off some more clock.”

Two successful Martin free throws with 78 ticks left in the game clock extended the advantage to 48-44 but that was sliced to a point thanks to Fuller-Davis banking home a 3-point shot making with 48-47 with a minute left.

CHS survived a blocked shot before forcing a turnover which turned into a Tyrone Kelly free throw and a 49-47 lead with 21.7 seconds left in regulation. A little more than five seconds later, Cheeseboro evened things with his putback which led to an anxious final 16 seconds.

McKie said he hopes his team will take something out of this game about playing with a lead and use it from here on out.

“That win puts us in the playoffs and we now have a chance for third place,” he said of a scenario which comes true with a CHS win over Chapin and an RNE loss to LR. “We’re going to see pressure and we have to handle it better if we are going to win a game in the playoffs.”

 

RNE (49): James Fuller-Davis 6 0-1 17, Timothy Chesseboro 5 1-4 11, Alex Caldwell 2 2-4 7, Nigel Chaney 3 1-3 7, Deryk Paulk 0 2-2 2, Andre Garner 0 1-2 1, Iman Goode 1 2-2 4. Totals: 17 11-18 49

CHS (50): Taylor Kelly 4 0-0 8, Tyrone Kelly 4 1-2 9, Donovan Belton 5 0-0 11, DeSonta Cauthen 0 2-2 2, Tylen Turner 1 0-0 3, Jonathan Leet 1 0-0 2, Hyman Mathis 3 0-0 7, Malik Green 2 1-2 5, Jericho Murphy 0 1-3 1, Devin Martin 0 2-2 2. Totals: 20 7-11 50

Score by quarters: First: RNE, 7-6; Halftime: CHS, 22-18; Third: CHS, 41-25; Three-point goals: RNE 4 (Fuller-Davis 3, Caldwell), CHS 3 (Mathis, Turner, Belton)

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