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Bulldogs ‘Cam do’...

...and does thanks to Jefferson’s 3-point shooting barrage in 76-62 win over Caps

Posted: February 12, 2018 3:06 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S DEVIN MARTIN FAKED out one Columbia player on this move to the basket in last Thursday’s 76-42 win over the visiting Capitals.

In the span of just a few minutes, Camden showed why it could stick around in the AAA boys’ state basketball playoffs or, could find itself making an early exit.

In a game in which neither side could enhance or, endanger their postseason seeding, the Bulldogs trailed in the early going against visiting Columbia, pulled away to a 20-point lead with seven minutes left in the game before that margin was whittled to seven with less than two minutes to play.

The end result was a 76-62 win for the Dogs, the Region 4-AAA champions, who will host Carolina Academy in tonight’s AAA Upper State tourney opener inside the Dog Pound. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. A CHS victory would keep Ron McKie’s 14-7 charges at home for Friday’s second round pairing against the winner of the Seneca at Clinton game.

Having already locked down the top spot in 4-AAA and with Columbia unable to move out of fourth place in the five-team circuit, there was nothing on the line for either side in Thursday’s pairing on the Michael G. Culp Court. What McKie was concerned about was his team’s taking a step back with the playoffs looming.

“We knew, win or lose, it wasn’t going to affect us,” McKie said as to the outcome of Thursday’s regular season finale. “I just kept trying to tell the kids that we had to develop habits. 

“Every time you step on the floor, even when you step on the court for practice, you have to have good habits. I know the game didn’t mean anything in terms of whether we won or lost, but we have to work on things so that we could get better when (this) week comes and the games are real.”

Cam Jefferson helped allay his coach’s fears as the senior guard poured in seven 3-point baskets in a span of less than eight minutes between the second and third quarters en route to a 25-point night.

“He felt it and we gave him the green light,” McKie said of Jefferson’s marksmanship from beyond the arc. “I tell our kids that this is our gym, we shoot here all the time and that we should have supreme confidence shooting the ball here whether it is threes (point shots), free throws or, whatever. Cam did that tonight but nobody else was really hitting a lot of shots other than Cam. He carried us.”

After Jefferson, senior guard Devin Martin was next for the Dogs with 20 points. The scoring dropped after that duo to senior forward Jericho Murphy, who added nine points.

Jefferson helped bring the Dogs out of their offensive doldrums after the Capitals opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run and led, 25-20, with a Rico Dorsey trey with 3:55 left in the half. A little more than a minute later, the Jefferson show took center stage.

A 3-ball from junior Bryce Jeffcoat got the hosts started before Jefferson bottomed out two straight treys before adding a pair of free throws which put Camden on top for keeps at 31-29 with less than 35 ticks left in the second quarter clock. A Martin strip/steal resulted in two more free throws as the Dogs carried a 33-27 lead into halftime.

The break did not slow down Jefferson, who knocked down his first two shots from distance in the third quarter in  putting the Dogs on top, 39-30, with 6:37 left in the stanza.

The Caps, who called up several players from their junior varsity team, were still within striking distance when Tariq Copeland went inside for a pair and made it 45-36 with 3:30 showing on the third quarter clock.

Camden’s answer was an 11-0 run which opened with a traditional 3-point play from senior forward Donovan Belton, consecutive Jefferson treys --- the first of which came from well beyond 20 feet --- and Martin banking home a layup to extend the margin to 56-36 with 65 seconds left in a third quarter which ended with the Dogs holding a 57-41 advantage.

A Jalyn Dubose putback opened the final eight minutes of play with the junior adding another of the same variety to make it a 63-45 lead with just over six minutes left.

Dubose, a 6-foot-2 post player, had another strong performance off the bench as he scored four points while giving the Dogs a strong presence under the boards.

“He’s playing big for us at the end of the year when we need him,” McKie said of Dubose, whose season got off to a slow start after being injured during football season. “We’ve been waiting on that all year and now, Jalyn’s giving it to us off the bench. It’s going to be hard to keep him off the court if he keeps playing like that.”

As quickly as Camden hiked its lead to 20 points, Columbia started chipping away. A 9-3 run capped by five straight points from Sherman Durden drew the visitors to within 68-60 with 2:48 to play. A steal and layin from Dorsey cut the lead to 69-62 with just under two minutes remaining.

“Sometimes, with high school kids,” Mc-Kie said, “it’s hard to play with a big lead. We don’t want to rush down the court, take quick shots and give them the ball back. You try and call time out to tell the kids that. You don’t want to not look for shots, but you don’t want to take quick shots. It’s hard for high school kids to realize that.”

The Caps had to foul Camden down the stretch and after having clicked on all seven of their chances from the line in the first half, the Dogs went through a closing stretch in which they missed five of nine from the free throw stripe before sinking each of their final four attempts to finish 17-of-28 from the line.

“We had big leads at Columbia, Crestwood … we’ve had big leads in games that shrunk on us in the second half,” McKie said. “We have to do a better job with our delay game and hitting our free throws down the stretch. We were seven-for-seven in the first half but it counts in those last few minutes. 

“We have to shoot better under pressure.”

With neither side being under duress in terms of where they were bound for the playoffs, Columbia --- which heads to play top-ranked Southside in tonight’s Upper State first round pairing --- opened the game by receiving 3-point baskets from five different players in the first quarter. It would be Belton’s 12-foot baseline jumper, however, which gave the Dogs the 20-18 lead after the first eight minutes only to see the Caps go on their aforementioned 7-0 rally to open the second stanza and, briefly, have the upper hand before Jefferson got an even hotter hand.

Having finished conference play with a 7-1 record, McKie said, after the game, that he had not started breaking down Carolina Academy. What he had read and seen from the Trojans out of Greenville is that they may not be your typical four seed.

 “I think they gave Southside, who is first in their region (and in AAA play), a pretty good game the other night,” McKie said. “I told these kids that there is a four (seed) that is going to upset a one; it happens at least once in the Upper State or, Lower State and we don’t want to be that one. We have to take everyone seriously.

“I think we’re peaking. We’ve had an up and down year, so far. We went though some stretches where we were just hoping to get into the playoffs. The Chester game here last week gave us some confidence and the Indian Land road win on senior night up there on Tuesday was tough.

“I think these our seniors have stepped up and, it shows. They’re carrying us right now.”

Columbia (62): Alex Martin 3 0-1 8, Tyrese Blocker 3 3-4 11, Rico Dorsey 7 3-4 18, Jordan Puch 2 0-0 6, Nate Miller 2 0-0 5, Sherman Durden 3 3-5 10, Tariq Copeland 2 0-0 4. Totals: 22 9-14 62

Camden (76): Jericho Murphy 3 3-3 9, Devin Martin 6 6-8 20, Malik Green 1 2-2 5, Donovan Belton 3 2-5 8, Bryce Jeffcoat 1 0-0 3, Cam Jefferson 7 4-7 25, Jalyn Dubose 2 0-0 4, Chris Butler 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 17-25 76

Score by quarters: First: Camden, 20-18; Halftime: Camden, 33-27; Third: Camden, 57-41; Three-point goals: Columbia 9 (Martin 2, Blocker 2, Puch 2, Dorsey, Miller, Durden), Camden 11 (Jefferson 7, Martin 2, M. Green, Jeffcoat)

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