North County eliminates Glen Burnie in second OT

Hammack, bench spark Knights in 4A East, 66-64

Boys basketball

February 27, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Few observers of the neighborhood rivalry that has developed between the Glen Burnie and North County boys basketball teams - schools separated by three miles - would have been surprised that last night's game took two overtime periods to be decided.

Rather, the shocker was that North County relied on its bench to pull away from the host Gophers, 66-64, in a Class 4A East Region quarterfinal in Glen Burnie.

Although senior Kevin Hammack led all scorers with a game-high 31 points, the Knights earned the right to play host to the semifinal at 7 p.m. tomorrow against Thomas Johnson, a 109-59 winner over South River, because their bench outscored Glen Burnie's, 13-4.

Specifically, junior guard Dave Bafford and senior forward Barry Merrit combined to score all 13 of those points in the fourth quarter and two overtime periods.

"Coach [Mike Francis] tells us all the time that it's not just the starters who win games," said Merrit, who had six points. "We just wanted to do our part."

Bafford connected on a three-pointer and a lay-up in the fourth quarter and sank two free throws in the first overtime period, but it was Merrit's two crucial put-backs in the second overtime period that caught Francis' attention.

"I think he was the spark for us," Francis said. "We knew that the starters from both teams would be all over each other and that the bench would have to step in."

With the Gophers protecting a 44-38 lead less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Bafford's three-pointer from the left corner ignited a 12-6 North County run that knotted the game at 50 and forced overtime.

Two free throws from Hammack gave the Knights a 54-52 lead with 1:47 left, but sophomore guard Mitch Guest drained a three-pointer and converted two free throws to help Glen Burnie regain a 57-54 advantage.

Hammack hit a three-pointer from the right wing with 19 seconds left to tie the game again.

On the next Gophers possession, junior forward Montae Lawson grabbed an offensive rebound, but was stripped by senior guard Greg Scott.

Scott heaved the ball to Hammack at the other end of the floor for an apparent game-winning lay-up, but Hammack (eight rebounds and six steals) misjudged the amount of time left on the clock and threw up an awkward finger roll that hit the back rim and bounced away.

In the second overtime, Hammack sank two free throws to give North County a 66-64 lead with six seconds left.

Guest, who had nailed a three-pointer in the second overtime period to tie the game at 64, launched another three-pointer, but the ball rimmed out.

Guest registered 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while senior forward Shon Osborne paced the Gophers with a team-high 18 points, six rebounds and four steals.

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