Southern once again drops Southwestern in playoffs No. 3 Bulldogs overcome tougher Sabers, 78-68

March 01, 1996|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It had been 10 days since Southern-B dominated Southwestern in a 41-point victory at home in a game that Southwestern coach Terry Leverett later described as being "mental embarrassing."

The Sabers returned to Southern yesterday for the 4A North regional semifinals.

And while they eliminated some of the demons from that loss, Southwestern couldn't end Southern's playoff dominance over it, as the host and No. 3 Bulldogs defeated the No. 5 Sabers, 78-68.

Dedric Galloway led Southern (20-3) with a game-high 24 points and John Hemsley added 22.

Donta Lloyd scored 19 points for Southwestern (18-5) and Reginald Johnson had 18.

The Bulldogs, ranked No. 16 by the USA Today Super 25, will play host to No. 4 and defending state 4A champion Lake Clifton for the regional title this afternoon at 3:30. Southern defeated the Lakers by 20 points in their only regular-season meeting.

Southern has beaten South western in all three of their state playoff meetings.

The Bulldogs defeated the Sabers in a state 3A region semifinal in 1992-93, then in the regional finals the next season. The Bulldogs went on to win a state championship in both cases.

Southern, seeking a third trip to the state semifinals at College Park in four seasons, found a completely different Southwestern team from the one it blew out.

The Sabers were within 63-60 with 3:06 left in the game after a basket by Robert Gray. Kofi Pointer connected on two free throws for Southern, pushing the lead back to five.

Southern forced a jump ball to regain possession and Galloway found Hemsley for an alley-opp basket with 2:17 remaining, before hitting 11 of 16 free throws in the final two minutes.

"We played well down the stretch," said Southern coach Meredith Smith, whose career record is 305-97.

"I think Southwestern came in with a different game plan this time. They didn't try to run and played a good half-court game."

The Bulldogs did a strong job defensively on Lloyd in the final five minutes.

Lloyd, who had a poor performance in the previous loss to Southern and in last week's city championship game loss to No. 2 Dunbar, had four three-pointers yesterday, but only took two shots late in the game.

His final three-pointer sparked a 5-0 spurt for Southwestern, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to 57-54 with 5:08 remaining.

Galloway came right back with a three-point play and a free throw by Marlon Wise to give Southern a 61-54 lead.

The Sabers continued to fight back, pulling to within 61-58 midway in the final quarter, but Southern seemingly always had a response, getting a foul-line jumper by Wise to push the lead back to 63-58 with 3:15 remaining.

"We played not to get blown out," said Leverett, whose team lost four of its final five games after a 17-1 start.

"We played with Southern as opposed to trying to beat them. I think we were satisfied with just keeping it close, as opposed to stepping up and turning that corner."

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