How physical was No. 4 Southern's 68-57 victory over visiting and No. 3 Lake Clifton yesterday?
On average, a foul was committed every 43 seconds. The combined distance of free throws was more than 10 length-of-the-court shots. It was, indeed, rough.
"We like it like that," said Southern guard David Cason, who had a game-high 23 points. "We like to take charge and play a physical game."
For Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore, whose team (6-2, 2-1) was bumped by Southern (7-3, 4-1) out of second place in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division II, the amount of body contact came as a mild surprise.
"In the past, we've played some really physical games against Southern," he said. "Still, we didn't expect it to be this physical."
Southern big men Che Evans and Johnny Salley dominated the offensive and defensive boards, pulling down a combined 24 rebounds. The Bulldogs also blocked 14 Lakers shots, Salley leading with four.
"We wanted to stick to our game plan," said Cason, who had 10 assists. "We wanted to pound the ball inside to Johnny [Salley] and Che [Evans]. That's what has worked for us in the past."
And it worked again.
Evans scored 15, and, although Salley scored only seven, he drew several fouls.
For much of the first half, however, Lake Clifton played the aggressor. Led by guard Curtis Sheppard, who scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the first half, the Lakers scored 14 unanswered points to gain a 28-19 lead with 2 minutes, 53 seconds left in the half.
After a Southern timeout, the Bulldogs closed within 32-29 at halftime. Five Southern players scored during the 10-4 spurt.
The game was decided, however, in the opening minutes of the second half. Southern came out and went on a 13-2 run, giving it a 42-34 lead with 2:40 left in the third.
"Our execution just wasn't there in the first half," said Southern coach Meredith Smith. "I told them we had to improve on offensive execution and pick it up on defense."
Said Cason: "He [Smith] told me I was rushing my shots, that I was being impatient. He told me to let my shots come to me instead of going to my shots."
And Cason's shots started to come. With his team firmly in the lead, Cason paced Southern with nine points in the final 8:02, as it held off Lake Clifton.
The Lakers closed within four with 5:29 left, but could not pull any closer.
"They had the crowd," said Moore, "and once the crowd gets into it, it's tough to come back. It was a hard-fought game."