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Survive and (barely) advance

Dogs slid past Newberry, 75-73, in tourney opener

Posted: February 16, 2017 11:03 a.m.
Updated: February 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S WILL WARNOCK WON this battle to the ball with Newberry’s Zay Chalmers in first half action from the Bulldogs’ first round AAA state tourney win on Tuesday.

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If there is one thing which Camden head coach Ron McKie has learned about his team it is that no lead, regardless of how large, is safe.

Another illustration of that fact was in plain view in Tuesday’s AAA state tournament opening around game with Newberry as CHS built up a 22-point second quarter advantage, had a 17-point cushion going into the third quarter and then, had to hold on for dear life to come away with a 75-73 victory on the Michael G. Culp Court.

The win sends the Bulldogs (9-9) to Greenville for tonight’s second round pairing with top-ranked Southside, an 87-34 winner over West-Oak on Tuesday.

Having double-digit leads and then, either losing them or squeaking by with a win, has become something which has come along with the territory for his team this season, McKie said.

“I know my team and I know that we can play real good and that we can play really bad,” he said. “We’ve had big leads this year. We had a 14- or 15-point lead at Fairfield Central that disappeared and we barely hung on. We had a 20-point lead at Indian Land and then, they cut it to six and made it a game and, we struggled.

“For high school kids to have to hold the ball and be smart … we’re young and we have to learn. If we could just have made some free throws tonight, there wouldn’t have been that panicked feeling down the end of the game.”

The hosts held a 73-59 lead with 1:53 left in the game when sophomore Nyicere Greene scored the final three of his nine fourth quarter points by completing both ends of a traditional 3-point play.

Given how CHS had been in control of things since opening the contest on a 13-0 run, there was little indication that the final two minutes would provide much drama. That all changed, however, as Newberry started making shots, intensified its full-court press and lengthened the game by sending Camden to the free throw line often in the closing 50 seconds.

The frantic final seconds actually started when NHS’s Tramas Ruff recorded a steal and layin with 1:48 remaining to touch off a 7-0 run. Camden contributed to the flurry by turning the ball over on a traveling violation and then missing a layin which led to a Pat Paul 3-point jumper to make it a 73-68 contest with 52.4 seconds showing on the game clock.

Camden would miss six of eight free throw chances in the final 49.9 seconds of play. A Jericho Murphy freebie made it 74-68 with 36.9 seconds remaining. One from Malik Green with 23.8 ticks left in the clock made it 75-70. But Newberry’s Terrell Rogers banked home a 3-ball on a third-chance attempt with six seconds left to close the gap to 75-73.

A pair of missed free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining kept the door open for the guests. Rogers grabbed the rebound after the second miss and heaved up a 60-footer at the buzzer which did not draw iron as the Dogs lived to see another day.

Camden placed four players in double figures led by senior center Will Warnock’s 17 points. Cam Jefferson was next with 14 followed by Greene and Donovan Belton with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

McKie said Warnock, who picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter, enjoyed a big night but it could have been even better on both ends with a few adjustments.

“Will played great and he played hard. If I can only get him from killing people when he contests shots, we wouldn’t have been hurting so much inside,” he said. “When we took him out, they started pounding the inside. They started driving and crashing the boards. I would have done the same thing with a big kid out but that’s something we have to work on.”

While getting balanced scoring, McKie took a dim view of his team’s free throw shooting at crunch time not to mention overall as the Dogs were 16-for-35 from the charity stripe. That is just one area which CHS needs to shore in the two days of practice leading up to tonight’s game. “We have to correct our mistakes, especially from the free throw line,” McKie said with a shake of his head.

Camden played Tuesday’s game without starting point guard Devin Martin. The junior was the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging better than 12 points per game. His absence shortened an already thin bench while taking a ball-handler out of the rotation against a Newberry squad which likes to press.

Early on, the Dogs had little problems with the guests’ full-court pressure and with NHS not scoring a basket until the 4:05 mark of the first quarter, it could not set its defense up. Camden enjoyed one of its best stretches of the season in opening on a 13-0 run with Warnock and Murphy scoring four points apiece before Jefferson buried a 3-ball to make it 13-0 with 4:16 remaining in the opening stanza.

Camden, which led, 25-10, after the end of the first quarter, played well on both ends of the floor as evidenced by its six block shots. The home side received six points each from Warnock, Murphy and Jefferson in racing to the quick lead after the first eight minutes of play.

 “They’re not a big team and I think we caught them off-guard with how aggressive we were,” McKie said of his team’s start. “We just wanted to attack the paint after beating the first wave of pressure. We told Will (Warnock) to hide on the baseline and shape up so if somebody gets it to you, you just gather the ball up and finish. He got a lot of good shots that way.

 “We had them back on their heels but once they gathered themselves, they were relentless.”

Camden stretched its lead to 33-12 thanks to an 8-0 run which included a pair of free throws and a spinning five-foot jumper from Bryce Jeffcoat. The lead stayed at better than 20 points at the break after CHS backup point guard Jerrell Hunter drove the length of the floor with a twisting buzzer-beating layin in which he created separation for himself with a nifty behind-the-back dribble move at the foul line to send the hosts into the locker room on top, 44-23.

During the break, McKie warned his team that they had yet to take Newberry’s best shot and that the guests would make this a game. He just did not know when it would come or, how long it would take NHS to get there.“I told them that they were going to hit shots and that they would make a run. We just had to keep doing what we were doing,” he said.Newberry guard Pat Paul, who went scoreless in the first 16 minutes, got on track from beyond the arc in the third quarter by knocking down a pair of early treys. CHS still held a sizeable, 59-42, advantage at the end of a third quarter which closed with the visitors missing four straight free throws in the closing 38 seconds.Camden was also hurt in the second half by the loss of Jefferson, who was battling cramping problems for most of the second 16 minutes of play after having scored 13 first half points.“Cam started cramping in the second half and we had to take him out,” McKie said. “Then, Will (Warnock) started cramping at the end of the game. “We have a short bench; we only have 10 players and we’re playing nine. With that pace, going up and down the court, something had to give. (Newberry) just kept rotating players in. We were just fortunate to hang on there at the end.”The dry spell which McKie feared from his team started in the opening three minutes of the fourth quarter as Newberry went on a 15-4 run with a pair of Zay Chalmers foul shots drawing the guests to within 63-57 with five minutes remaining in the game.It would be Greene who provided a much-needed shot in the arm down the stretch. The junior guard answered Chalmers’ free throws with a stickback at the 4:45 marker before finding room on the baseline and completing the drive with a scoop move for a layin and a 67-57 lead. With 2:43 to go, Greene’s layin and free throw --- coming after a Warnock layup --- put the Dogs out in front, 73-59.In addition to his team’s missing free throws which would have closed the deal, McKie was also upset about his team’s clock management. Too many times, he said, the Dogs tried to force things and create shots which were not there.“They have to watch that on film because that will drive a coach crazy when we’re trying to run time off the clock,” he said. “I tell our guys that if they can beat their man, beat him but when you get in the lane, you have to use common sense. When there are two or three guys in front of you, then dribble back out or, dish the ball off. We shot the ball when we had one-one-two or, one-one-three. We didn’t make good decisions down the stretch.“But we just wanted to survive and advance, basically. In the tournament, if you win a one-point game, we’ll be satisfied and we’ll go to the next round.”
Scouting Southside: In talking with Newberry head coach Chad Cary, who had seen Southside on film, McKie learned about what the Tigers (23-1) like to do on offense and defense.Southside lists a pair of players who check in at 6-foot-8, one at 6-foot-7 and three others players who stand 6-foot-2 or better. Jaylen McKelvey, who measures in at 5-foot-10 and weighing 145 pounds was recently named to the AAA All-State Team, Camden’s tallest player is Warnock, at 6-4, with Belton next at 6-2.Given their decided height disadvantage, McKie said his team can ill afford to get into a street brawl tonight.“According to Coach Cary,” McKie said of the impromptu scouting report on Southside, “they don’t like to run up and down the court so we’re going to try and get the ball up and down the court as fast as we can and try and get their bigs tired.“We’re going to try to press little more in order to try to beat that zone down the court. We have to knock some shots down try and stretch that defense out. If you don’t, they’re going to pack it in. “We’re going to have our hands full but every round you go, it’s going to get tougher. That’s the playoffs.”
NHS (73): Tyrese Cromer 1 2-2 5, Darius Stephens-York 2 3-5 7, Zay Chalmers 4 3-3 11, P.J. Wright 8 1-3 17, Jaleel Gilliam 1 1-4 3, Terrell Rogers 6 0-0 13, Pat Paul 4 2-3 13, Tramas Ruff 1 0-0 2. Totals: 27 12-21 73CHS (75): Will Warnock 8 1-4 17, Jericho Murphy 2 3-10 7, Donovan Belton 4 3-5 11, Cam Jefferson 5 1-2 14, Nyicere Greene 4 4-5 12, Bryce Jeffcoat 1 2-2 4, Jerrell Hunter 1 0-0 2, Malik Green 2 1-4 5, Trajon Pate 0 1-3 1. Totals: 27 16-35 75
Score by quarters: First: CHS, 25-10; Halftime: CHS, 44-23; Third: CHS, 59-42; Three-point goals: NHS 5 (Paul 3, Rogers, Cromer), CHS 3 (Jefferson 3)

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