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Dogs repel Trojans in round one, 82-44

Camden hosts Clinton tonight in second round

Posted: February 14, 2018 1:25 p.m.
Updated: February 16, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S MALIK GREEN DRIVES to the basket against Carolina Academy in Tuesday’s AAA Upper State tournament game. The Dogs will host Clinton tonight in round 2 at 7 p.m.

Knowing all too well the mindset of a four seed when taking on a region champion, Camden boys’ basketball coach Ron McKie warned his squad of the dangers when facing a team which was playing with nothing to lose.

Message received.

Holding visiting Carolina Academy to 15 first half points, the Bulldogs passed their opening round AAA Upper State tournament test with flying colors with an 82-44 blitzing of the Trojans Tuesday night on the Michael G. Culp Court.

The victory was the seventh in a row for the Region 4 champions (15-7) who host Clinton, a 70-47 winner over Seneca, in tonight’s second round pairing inside the Dog Pound. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. for Camden’s first home second round game since defeating visiting North Charleston en route to the 2008-09 AAA state championship.

While it can be argued that the state tourney gets into its nuts and bolts tonight, McKie was concerned about Tuesday’s pairing against an athletic Trojan unit out of Greenville. In each of the past two seasons, Camden was the team playing with house money and in 2016, nearly upended top seed Berea only to lose at the buzzer, 61-59.

The Trojans, the fourth-place entry out of Region 2, came into town just minutes before game time with a 6-12 record and athletic ability to spare. What McKie did not want to see was the guests turn this game into a track meet and steal a victory on the road.

“It’s a wild hare ‘em and scare ‘em style,” McKie said Carolina Academy’s style of play. “I told our guys if we get a rebound that they could come and sneak in behind you and steal the ball or, they will leave their man and double you. They take a lot of chances in trying to turn you over so that they can sprint down the court. 

“At times, we didn’t handle that well, but for the most part, we took the ball in transition, took the lane and got a good shot.”

The Dogs, who went from being unranked to sitting in the number five spot in the latest AAA state poll, were, in some respects, ripe for the picking on Tuesday. After a 25-point performance last Thursday against Columbia, newly minted senior All-State guard Cam Jefferson was “held” to  15 points while backcourt partner Devin Martin, who was coming off a 20-point night against the Capitals, had five on Tuesday.

More than picking up the slack for that pair were senior forwards Donovan Belton and Malik Green who combined to pour in 34 points led by Belton’s 18. Green, who can play guard or forward, had one of his best nights in a Camden uniform with 16 points including six in the first quarter and 10 more in the third. Given Green’s track record, his output on Tuesday was not all that surprising.

“Malik played big last year in the playoffs for us,” McKie said. “He’s been up and down all year and I told him before the game that he’s a senior and that he’s been playing well and practicing well. I knew they were going to come out and put a lot of pressure on him and that we needed a solid ballhandler who could beat them off the dribble. He got us off to a good start tonight.”

It was a Belton stickback and Green’s 12-foot pull-up jumper which gave the Dogs the lead for keeps at 8-4 with 4:40 left in the first quarter. Green then scored on a layin and added a baseline drive to trigger a quarter-ending 9-2 run which was capped by a Belton 3-point basket as Camden led, 17-8, after one quarter.

Martin did all his scoring in the second stanza, draining a trey and later adding a pair of free throws in a span of less than three minutes in which Camden’s lead ballooned to 29-14 after Trajon Pate found himself alone under the basket and took a crossing feed from Martin to make it 29-13. A Jefferson 3-ball extended the lead to 38-13 in a half which ended with a short jumper from CA’s Davario Brown as the Dogs took a 38-15 lead into the locker room at the break.  “Anytime you hold anybody, especially in the playoffs, to just 15 points in the first half, that’s great defense,” McKie said of his team’s first 16 minutes of play.

Playing with such a large advantage, McKie tried to blow this one out of the water while working on some aspects of their game for later in the postseason. 

Camden came out in a full court press to open the third quarter. The strategy backfired as the Trojans score more points in the third quarter --- 19 --- than they did in the entire first half but still trailed, 58-34 when it was all said and done.

Green helped keep the guests at bay by scoring 10 third quarter points including getting his own missed free throw attempt and sticking it home for a 49-22 lead with 4:03 left in the third. Quiozell Buckley paced the visitors with seven third quarter points as the Trojans shredded the press.

“I decided to see if they could handle pressure in the third quarter, but we just did not run our press very well. We gave up too many layups and we had to get out of it,” McKie said of the defensive strategy. “We have to work on that because there may be a time, maybe (tonight) and, hopefully, if we get later, that we’re going to have to press to change the tempo of the game. We’re going to have to watch this film because it was way too easy for them.”

Camden poured it on in the fourth quarter, using a 17-2 run to break this one wide open at 77-36 with a little more than two minutes to play. The surge included a pair of Jefferson jumpers and four points each from Jalyn Dubose and Chris Butler, who each came off the bench to score 11 and seven points, respectively.

Tuesday was another solid performance for the 6-foot-2 Dubose whose play in and around the basket has kept the Dogs from skipping a beat on both ends of the floor.

Camden placed five players in double figures on an evening in which Jefferson and Martin had fairly quiet nights. For the Dogs to still be able to score a season- high 82 points, McKie said, was a good sign. “We didn’t get the production like we have over the past few games from our guards. It helps our team when other guys chip in. It gives them more confidence,” McKie said.

“You’re going to have nights when your shots don’t fall. Good teams have that and, hopefully, we’re at that point where if someone has a bad night, someone else steps in and takes their place.”

CA (44): Drek Young 3 0-0 6, Quiozell Bunkley 5 0-1 11, Keshawn Ward 2 0-0 4, Davario Brown 5 1-1 11, Thanyious Clement 1 0-1 2, Freeman Sress 3 0-0 6, Deontae Sloan 0 0-2 0, Eric Williams 2 0-1 4. Totals: 21 1-9 44

CHS (82): Donovan Belton 6 4-5 18, Cam Jefferson 5 2-2 15, Malik Green 7 2-3 16, Jalyn Dubose 2 7-10 11, Devin Martin 1 2-2 5, Bryce Jeffcoat 1 0-0 2, Trajon Pate 1 2-2 4, Chris Butler 3 0-0 7, Demonte Green 1 0-0 2, Kasean Crews 1 0-1 2. Totals: 28 19-25 82

Score by quarters: First: CHS, 17-8; Halftime: CHS, 38-15; Third: CHS, 58-34; Three-point goals: CA 1 (Bunkley), CHS 7 (Jefferson 3, Belton 2, Martin, Butler)

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