Camden’s relay team method of substitution is designed to wear down its opponents.
Someone forgot to let Lugoff-Elgin in on the plan.
Trailing, 60-39, with less than four minutes to play in the third quarter, the Demons staged a valiant comeback, outscoring the hosts Bulldogs, 49-22, over the final 12 minutes of the game to leave the Dog Pound with a wild 88-84 victory in the first game of the cross-river rivalry series which moves to L-E Friday night.
If the second go ‘round between the two sides is anything like the first, both players and fans may want to hydrate before entering the Demons Den.
Under interim head coach Ron McKie Jr., Camden substitutes five players at a time, sometimes at the next stoppage in play as opposed to three- to four-minute shifts. The Dogs’ whirling, revolving door method of subbing players in and out of the game would make an NHL coach green with envy. And, for the first 16 minutes of this contest, it left the Demons winded as the Dogs carried what looked to be a commanding 46-28 lead into the locker room at the break.
While his team knew what to expect after having seen that CHS scored 91 points, and lost, at Lancaster, second-year L-E head coach Garrett Knight said the furious pace of play took his players time to get used to.
"We knew they were going to press us all night," said Knight, who roomed with McKie in college. "They are fast and they were outrunning us in the first half. It was a gut-check for my guys. I asked them whether they wanted to win or, not."
While Knight was imploring his players to play harder and smarter in the second half, McKie said his players may have thought they had this one in the bag after outscoring the Demons, 26-11, in the second stanza.
"Garrett fires them boys up. Hat’s off to them," McKie said of Knight and the Demons. "They didn’t back down and they didn’t quit. It was a tale of two halves. Our guys thought they won it and forgot there are two halves to a game and it bit them in the butt, that and fouls."
Ah, yes, fouls. Camden committed a bunch of them in the third quarter to the point in which the guests were in the double bonus for the final nine minutes of the game. L-E would go to the foul line 34 times, sinking 14 freebies. But in Camden’s "hair on fire" scheme, stoppages in play are not looked upon with favor. In this case, it helped fuel a Demon comeback.
"Our style …," McKie said, "if we foul and stop the game and let them catch their breath, that’s how teams come back against us. That’s how Lancaster came back and beat us that first time we played them."
Camden (2-2) was still in control of this game when a Jonathan Leet putback kept the lead at 62-42 with 3:24 left in the third quarter. L-E would close the quarter with a 17-3 surge which opened with a Tyrese Elm drive at the 3:16 marker, touching off an 8-0 run.
The Dogs’ lead stood at 65-50 following a Shamire Jacobs layin with 65 ticks left in the third quarter clock. Again, the Demons responded. Junior Aldreacio Wells started the comeback with a fast break layin and then added a pair of free throws 12 seconds later to chop the deficit to 65-54. An L-E steal resulted in a five-foot floater from freshman Kevon Roberson with 30 seconds left. It was Roberson who got the large L-E contingent inside the Dog Pound going when he took an inbounds pass, following a time out, and found himself alone outside the arch and swished home the trey as the buzzer sounded, cutting the Camden lead to 65-59.
After a pair of consecutive Jacobs treys gave the Dogs a game-best 21-point advantage midway through the third, CHS struggled with the changes which Knight made to his team’s full-court press.
"They went four across on the press and my guys were confused," McKie said of his team’s struggles with turnovers in the second half. "That’s something I’m going to work on in practice on Monday."
After a second quarter in which one of his players was called for a technical foul, Knight said changes had to be made both physically and mentally at halftime. His words did not fall on deaf ears.
"I told them at halftime that it was going to be a physical game," Knight said. "Our kids were getting frustrated; we had a technical foul in the second quarter and, you can’t let little stuff like that get in your head. I told them whoever wanted it more was going to win and you just have to keep playing hard."
The Demons (3-2) used an 8-2 spurt in the opening 75 seconds of the fourth quarter to tie things at 67 following a Wells drive with 6:45 left in the game. Camden regained the lead with a 3-ball from Jaylen Nelson and a pair of Tyrone Kelly free throws to go up, 72-67 with six minutes to play.
L-E found success in slashing to the basket against the Bulldogs with layins from Elm, Robert Samuel and Brandon Davis, the latter evening things at 78 with 3:13 to play. Daniel Quattlebaum’s free throw, 19 seconds later, gave the Demons their first lead since lead 17-14 in the final 65 seconds of the first quarter at 79-78.
What L-E was able to do in the second half was capitalize on Camden’s offensive aggressiveness by sending a man to the basket on the run out after a Demon player grabbed a rebound.
"If you didn’t shoot it," McKie said of his offense, "you know to crash the boards. The problem was, we just liked to look. The shooter rotates while everyone else crashes so, if there is a 2-on-1 (break) that we stop it. That’s something we have to work on.
"It goes against the grain because these kids have been told that when you shoot it to follow your shot … they’ve been told that since rec league. This game showed us that we have things to work on."
Camden sandwiched a Quattlebaum drive with a Nelson layin and a Jericho Murphy trifecta to regain the edge at 83-81 with 2:28 remaining. Davis tied this one at 83 with a drive at the 2:10 marker. The Bulldogs then started to come undone with two turnovers before getting nothing out of a steal in a span of 31 seconds. They did use a D.J. Wilson free throw to go on top, 84-82, with 1:02 left.
With 51 seconds to play, Wells hit the first of two free throws. The second, however, was grabbed and put back for a pair by freshman Bradwin Salmond whose older brother, Bryant, was a member of Camden’s 2008-09 AAA state championship squad. That putback was huge as L-E would add a pair of free throws in the final 21 seconds in closing the contest with a 7-1 run over the final two minutes and 10 seconds.
"Bradwin’s such a great player as a freshman," Knight said of the young man whose stickback was a dagger in Camden’s hopes. "He does so many good things for us. He’s going to be special over the next few years."
L-E had the better of things in the first quarter, using a Salmond trey to help jump to a 7-2 start before his floater with 1:06 left in the first kept the lead in the Demons’ hands at 17-14. CHS then used a pair of mid-range jumpers from Leet and Jacobs to take an 18-17 lead into the second quarter.
Camden’s constant substitution took its effect in the second as Chad Thomas knocked down a trey to start the second stanza which led to 15 unanswered points in a stretch of three and a half minutes which included the aforementioned L-E technical. Nelson, who tied Quattlebaum for game honors with 19 points, had seven straight at one point.
The Dogs led by 18 twice in the second, the final time after a Taylor Kelly drive with 1:04 left to make it 44-26. Quattlebaum’s runner in the pain area cut the lead to 44-28. L-E could have made further headway had it not missed four straight free throws in the final 25 seconds.
Coming off a 77-63 loss to Brookland-Cayce two nights earlier, Knight said his team needed a win like this, in a tough environment.
"It’s always good to win your rivalry game," he said. "We haven’t had much success against Camden in the past five or six years so, this is a great confidence-builder for us."
CHS (84):Hyman Mathis 5 0-0 11, Jaylen Nelson 7 3-4 19, D.J. Wilson 3 2-4 8, Chad Thomas 2 1-4 6, Jonathon Leet 3 0-0 6, Shamire Jacobs 4 0-0 10, Jericho Murphy 2 1-2 6, Shyheem Edwards 1 1-2 3, Tylen Turner 1 0-1 2, Taylor Kelly 1 2-5 5, Tyrone Kelly 2 2-2 6, Jamar Byrd 1 0-0 2. Totals: 32 12-24
Score by quarters:First: CHS, 18-17; Halftime: CHS, 44-28; Third: CHS, 65-59; Three-point goals: L-E 2 (Salmond, Roberson), CHS 8 (Nelson 2, Jacobs 2, Mathis, Thomas, Murphy, Tay. Kelly)