Southern overcomes Walbrook 4A NORTH BOYS

March 02, 1995|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

Southern coach Meredith Smith said his young team has grown up dramatically during the course of this season.

Last night at Walbrook, the ninth-ranked Bulldogs showed just how much.

Led by forwards John Hemsley (23 points) and Dedric Galloway (22), Southern erased an 11-point third-quarter deficit and outscored the third-ranked Warriors, 11-4, in the final 1:19 en route to an 81-75 victory in the Class 4A North semifinals.

The win was the Bulldogs' first in three tries this season against their league rivals, and puts them one step closer to a trip to the state semifinals in College Park and a chance at their third straight state title.

"This was a courageous victory for us," said Smith. "We were playing on their home court and we had to overcome a lot of adversity. But the second half of basketball was probably the best half we've played all year."

After trailing for much of the first half -- and watching Walbrook guards Travone Broadway (29 points) and Anton Jenifer (18) control the game -- Southern (13-9) switched from a zone defense to man-to-man and began to make its move.

The Bulldogs turned up the intensity and rarely left a Walbrook player open on the perimeter. What's more, they started forcing turnovers and turning them into fast-break points.

After losing the ball three times in the first half, the Warriors (15-5) gave it up 12 times the rest of the way, including five in their final seven possessions of the third quarter.

"I just think they wanted it a little more than we did," said Walbrook coach Gus Herrington.

The Bulldogs closed the third quarter with a 10-3 run to pull within three, then took their first lead of the second half on Galloway's foul shot with 5:56 left.

Trailing 71-70 with 1:19 left, the Bulldogs' Shawntey Barnes (15 points) gave his team the lead for good on a driving layup with 1:08 to play. Hemsley then put an exclamation point on it with a steal, length-of-the-court drive and a slam to make it 74-71.

Walbrook got as close as a point, but Southern made seven of eight free throws in the final 22 seconds to seal the victory.

"We knew we had to play with defensive intensity and we had to play with guts," said Hemsley. "Today we did that, and we also hit our free throws."

But for he and the Bulldogs to return to Cole Field House, they must first get past a top-ranked Lake Clifton team that has beaten them twice this season.

"We've grown up a lot since the first game, and we've learned something new every day," said the junior. "If we put our hearts into it we can accomplish anything."

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