When you have the stage, steal the spotlight.
On a night in which Camden honored its seniors in a between game ceremony, Dwight Coleman used the occasion to come up with a career game. The Bulldog senior center gave the hometown fans something to remember him by as he poured in a career-best 21 points in helping the hosts to a come-from-behind, 68-61, win over visiting Indian Land Tuesday on the Michael G. Culp Court inside the Dog Pound.
With leading scorer Trajon Pate home with the flu, the Dogs not only needed to recall Cameron Couthen from the junior varsity to get their roster to eight players, but also needed a second scoring option other than junior guard Kasean Crews, who came up with a season- and team-high 26 points, as Camden locked down third place in Region 4-AAA with a 4-3 record heading into Thursday’s finale at top-ranked Keenan.
The Bulldogs (13-9) will open AAA Upper State playoff action when they travel to meet Seneca next Tuesday in a 7 p.m. start.
Camden needed a win on Tuesday in order to secure the third spot in the league. That was in jeopardy with just less than three minutes left in the third quarter as a 3-point jumper from John Fose put the Warriors on top, 43-32, with 3:14 left in the stanza. CHS went on a furious 29-9 run over the next eight and a half minutes to finally get control of things, having a 61-52 advantage with 3:25 left to play.
Fueling the rally for the hosts were Crews and Coleman who contributed 13 and six points, respectively. In fact, Crews scored 17 second half points as CHS swept its season series with Indian Land.
“We had a little spurt and it helped us. We got some easy shots during that run,” said Camden head coach Ron McKie of his team’s comeback. “Dwight wasn’t playing very well, up to a point, then he turned it on and played big. Kasean stepped up, even though they put a box and one on him. Everybody else was struggling to score. Kasean was carrying us for awhile until Dwight starting hitting some shots.
“We can’t go into the playoffs with just one kid scoring. We need to have a full team effort and we didn’t have it tonight until the end of the third quarter and into the fourth.”
The comeback from the 11-point deficit opened with Crews knocking down consecutive 3-point jumpers. A 3-ball from IL’s Destin Clark, who led all scorers with 27 points, put the lead back in twin figures at 48-38 before the Dogs used a Devante Johnson trifecta and a Couthen up and under bucket, off a pretty feed from Landon Goodwin, as the buzzer sounded as the hosts climbed back within 48-43.
Couthen opened the fourth quarter scoring with another layin, coming via a Johnson assist to touch off what became a quarter-starting 18-3 run. The next seven points came courtesy of a traditional 3-point play from Crews, who followed a Bryce Jeffcoat layup with a short, running floater from inside the paint area which put the Dogs on top for keeps at 52-49 with 5:15 to play.
After Clark stopped the bleeding with a jumper to make it 52-51, the Dogs had another flurry left in them. This time, it was Coleman completing both ends of a 3-point play and then slashing through the paint for a layin which was followed by one of the similar variety from Crews to help put a bit of cushion between the two sides as the CHS lead grew to 61-52 with 3:25 to play.
A trey from IL’s Jared Diemer with 2:32 remaining got the guests back within striking distance at 61-55. Camden, however, answered every last-ditch Warrior call, getting a pair of Johnson free throws along with baskets from Crews and Coleman, the latter of which made it 67-59 with 50 ticks left in the game clock.
Not having Pate available hurt the Dogs until Coleman lent Crews a helping hand with the scoring chores.
“It hurts a lot,” McKie said of Pate’s absence. “He’s a third-year varsity player who has started the last two years. He and Kasean are our top two scorers. Without Trajon getting touches in the high post and helping us under the boards hurt us tonight. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him back for the playoffs.”
Receiving 3-balls from Crews and Jeffcoat and a pair of Coleman baskets and a free throw, Camden jumped to a quick 12-4 lead in the opening four-plus minutes of play. IL rode the broad back of the 6-foot-3 Clark to take the upper hand after the first eight minutes, using nine points from the junior for a 12-11 lead.
Camden regained the lead in the second quarter, going on top, 22-19 with 3:33 left before halftime thanks to a pair of Coleman baskets trailed by a Crews steal and basket from point-blank range in a first half which ended in a 26-all deadlock.
Clark, who checks in at better than 220 pounds, was allowed to roam free and used his bulk and a few friendly non-calls to score half of the Warriors’ first half points.
“He was palming the ball, walking with the ball and pushing us off. He’s a hoss,” McKie said. “We struggled with stopping them in transition all night so we had to go with a box and one on him because he was having his way with us.”
Wanting to try and spread the ball and create mismatches and take Clark away from the action, Camden continued to push the ball and try and get the Warriors into a transition game. That did not work as McKie had scripted it as a series of missed shots and errant passes on Camden’s part led to IL opening the second half on a 17-6 run which turned into a 43-32 lead thanks to Fose’s trey with 3:14 left in the third before CHS mounted its charge.
“Luckily, we got some good looks and got some layups,” McKie said. It was not exactly what I wanted, but it worked out for us.”
IL (61): Destin Clark 10 5-9 27, Ardian Pledger 3 2-3 8, Jared Diemer 2 0-0 6, John Fose 2 1-2 6, Gabe Shock 0 2-2 2, Tobyn Thibedau1 0-0 2, Tre Thompson 2 2-3 6, Grayson Barber 0 0-2 0, Cooper Beisner1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 12-21 61
CHS (68): Kasean Crews 11 1-1 26, Dwight Coleman 10 3-4 23, Bryce Jeffcoat 2 1-2 6, Jayln Dubose 0 1-4 1, Cameron Couthen 3 0-1 6, Devante Johnson 1 3-4 6, Landon Goodwin 0 0-2 0. Totals: 27 9-20 68
Score by quarters: First: CHS, 12-11; Halftime: Tied at 26; Third: IL, 48-43; Three-point goals: IL 5 (Clark 2, Diemer 2, Fose), CHS 5 (Crews 3, Jeffcoat, Johnson)