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Demons rally down stretch for 71-67 win

Posted: December 4, 2017 4:31 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S LANDON GOODWIN DRIVES to the basket while being tracked down by L-E’s Zarrius Salmond in second half action from Friday night’s game at the Dog Pound. The two rivals meet Friday night inside the Demons Den at L-E.

There is never an optimal occasion to hit a dry spell. Some, however, are more ill-timed than others.

Leading visiting Lugoff-Elgin, 60-52, with less than seven minutes to play in Friday’s first of two regularly scheduled meetings between the two rivals, Camden made just one basket in a stretch of more than six minutes. The Demons, meanwhile, went on a 19-4 tear to pave to way for a 71-67 win over the Bulldogs on the Michael G. Culp Court.

L-E guard Kevon Roberson, who led all scorers with 28 points which bested the 22 scored by Camden’s Devin Martin, came up big down closing minutes of play. The senior guard poured in 12 of his team’s 22 points in the final stanza --- in which the Dogs (1-1)  were held at bay --- by knocking down eight of his 13 free throw attempts in the closing five minutes of play.

A drained Garrett Knight was all smiles after watching his team rally for the second time in as many starts this season. The Demons used a Roberson free throw with 2.2 seconds left to get past River Bluff, 57-56, last Tuesday.

“It was fun,” he said. “That’s what (CHS) coach (Ron) McKie told me at the end of the game, that it was fun.”

McKie, whose squad was coming off a season-opening 74-50 win over North Central two nights earlier, probably had more fun on the sidelines in the game’s first 25 minutes; the final six-plus … not so much.

“We decided to go one-on-one and run our own offense and not the offense that we’ve been practicing since day one,” he said of his team’s play with the game on the line. “When we decide to do our own thing, it doesn’t work. We have to play as a team. We’ll learn to do what I ask them to do.

“I’m not saying that we would have won the game but we run an offense for a reason. Some of the players out there decided to take it upon themselves to do what they wanted to do and it backfired. When the other four guys are standing there and looking at you like, ‘What are you doing?’ … we were not on the same page and it showed.”

While it would be Roberson’s shooting which gave the hosts fits from the opening tip, the late Demon comeback started when he found Austin Shilhavy under the basket with a feed which made it 60-54 with 6:19 left to play. The easy bucket touched off what would become a game-altering 14-0 run.

A Zarrius Salmond layin followed before Arturo Sealy came up with the ball off a blocked shot and laid it home for a pair with 5:05 left. Two Roberson free throws at the 4:45 mark evened things at 60.

Camden proved to be its own worst enemy as three turnovers, including a charge taken by L-E’s Zarrius Salmond with 4:09 to play, helped fuel the L-E rally. A coast-to-coast Roberson drive extended the Demons’ lead to 63-60 before a Salmond stickback --- one of his game-best 13 rebounds -- and a Roberson foul shot capped the run as the guests held the 66-60 advantage with 1:24 left.

Camden, which received a conventional 3-point play from Martin followed by a Donovan Belton putback to give the hosts the 60-52 lead with 6:40, finally ended its scoring drought when Malik Green put back a missed shot to make it 66-62 with 63 ticks left in the game clock as McKie got a quick time out.

Needing to foul, the Dogs picked on the wrong guy in Roberson who knocked down half of his eight tries in the span of 34 seconds to put the guests on top, 70-63, with 27.2 seconds to play. CHS would close the final gap to four points with a Green trey with just under nine seconds left.

After his team cut the deficit to 60-52 with Shilhavy’s basket, Knight called a time out with 6:19 remaining in order to make sure the Demons were on the same page.

“I put four guards in the game and I had to make sure they knew what they were doing out there,” Knight said of what he told his players in the huddle. “We talked about playing defense and their guys trying to drive to the basket and how we needed to step up and take a charge. We finally got one there at the end (from Zarrius Salmond) which was huge.”The defense which L-E played down the stretch was much more pleasing to Knight than that which his squad displayed in the early going.Martin, who scored the first eight points of the game against North Central, got off to another blazing start in this one. The 5-foot-8 guard had a pair of 3-point shots and also went inside for a putback in the first three and half minutes. The only problem was, the Demons had an answer in the form of Roberson who poured in 11 first quarter points as the visitors took a 21-18 lead after the opening stanza.After a slow start, L-E senior Bradwin Salmond picked up the slack in the second quarter. He sandwiched a Martin trey with two of his own from distance with the second breaking a 28-all deadlock with 4:30 left in a first half played at a break-neck pace.Martin, however, sent down consecutive 3-point jumpers which kick-started a 9-0 spurt as CHS took a 37-31 lead with 2:37 to play before halftime. An Elijah Manigo basket closed the gap to 37-35 with 1:18 remaining but the Dogs received a basket from Jericho Murphy and a strip-steal and layin from Martin to carry a 41-35 lead into intermission.Martin scored 19 first half point followed by nine from Belton in the first 16 minutes. Roberson, who was held scoreless in the second stanza, had 11 along Bradwin Salmond’s 11.“We wanted to shut down (Martin) and (Belton) and in the first half; we didn’t do any of that. Devin had about 20 in the first half and Donovan had about 10. They were taking us to school,” Knight said of his team’s defense in the first 16 minutes.“I told our guys that we scored enough points in the first half but we didn’t hold them enough on defense. We had to buckle down on defense and we found a way to do that at the end.”On offense, L-E faced an active Camden zone. By the second half, the Dogs went into a match-up scheme.“(Camden) started out in a zone and they’re really really scrappy,” Knight said. “The biggest thing for us in the first half was that we were throwing the ball away. “They came out in the second half and went man-to-man on us and it stymied us for a little bit but finally, we found a way to get around it and started making some baskets.”While pleased with his team’s offensive production in the first half, McKie --- like Knight ---, was less than enamored with his team’s play on the other end of the floor.“Offensively, I was pleased but not with our defense. We did things on defense that in practice, we try not to do,” McKie said.“We got beat on the boards in the second half. We didn’t get in good rebounding position and we’re not a big team anyway. We have to work on that for the next time we play them and for our region.”Against Camden’s match-up man-to-man set in the second half, L-E started taking advantage of its size to get back in the game. A Bradwin Salmond floater and Roberson’s 3-pointer with 4:05 left in the third drew the visitors within 45-44.L-E kept pace at the free throw line as the guests clicked on six of their eight third quarter chances from the stripe with Roberson and Zarrius Salmond each hitting a pair, with the latter keeping it a one-point, 49-48, Camden lead.The Dogs used three free throws from Landon Goodwin to lengthen the lead but a Bradwin Salmond stickback closed the third as the Demons trailed by a pair at 52-50 heading into the final stanza.A trey from Murphy opened the fourth quarter which led to Martin’s aforementioned drive and accompanying free throw which helped CHS to an eight-point cushion. But that would be it for the Dogs’ leading scorer as Martin was shut down the rest of the night by six-foot senior guard Ronil Patel.“I’ll tell you what,” Knight said in opening his post-game comments, “Ronil Patel was huge tonight by ‘d-ing’ up on Devin (Martin) in the last quarter. He kind of took him out of the ballgame. Devin still hit a few shots but taking him out of making those threes and getting the crowd erupting was huge for us.”McKie said the L-E defensive pressure wore Martin down and as he became tired, his shots started coming up short. Add in the Camden turnovers along with too much Roberson and it was part of the perfect storm for L-E’s late game comeback“They started getting in (Martin’s) face and played man-to-man and made him work for everything,” said the CHS head coach of L-E hiking up the defensive intensity. “We had some bad turnovers when it was crunch time. We made some bad decisions and (Roberson) took over the game.”McKie said his team had no answer for Roberson who had a free hand almost the entire night and played with confidence from start to finish.“(Roberson) felt comfortable the whole game doing what he wanted to do and we couldn’t get him out of his comfort zone,” McKie said.  “We were not very successful doing anything with him. In transition, he did what he wanted to. He was the best player on the floor tonight and usually, when you have the best player, you have the best chance to win.”
L-E (71): Kevon Roberson 7 12-17 28, Arturo Sealy 3 2-4 9, Bradwin Salmond 6 2-4 17, Austin Shilhavy 2 0-1 4, Zarrius Salmond 4 3-4 11, Elijah Manigo 1 0-0 2. Totals: 25 19-30 71CHS (67): Devin Martin 8 1-1 22, Donovan Belton 5 1-2 13, Nyicere Greene 2 0-0 5, Jericho Murphy 5 2-4 14, Bryce Jeffcoat 0 2-2 2, Malik Green 3 1-2 8, Landon Goodwin 0 3-4 3. Totals: 23 10-15 67
Score by quarters: First: L-E, 21-18; Halftime: CHS, 41-35; Third: CHS, 52-50; Three-point goals: L-E 5 (B. Salmond 3, Roberson 2), CHS 10 (Martin 5, Belton 2, Murphy 2, Green)

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