Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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High School

Libbey keeps poppin', but coach still burns

The pace of Last night's Libbey-Rogers City League basketball clash at SeaGate Centre could be compared to the final 30 seconds of a popcorn bag in your microwave oven.

Plenty of movement, much of it out of control.

The trouble for Rogers in a 64-51 loss was that its kernels burned and smoked over the final eight minutes while the Cowboys popped for the full 32.

Libbey (2-1, 1-0 CL), the defending City League champion and a Division I state semifinalist during a 25-1 season last year, got 16 points from all-league guard Jamaal Mays, plus 13 and 10, respectively, from transfers Danny Williams and Andre Autman.

Featuring a smaller lineup mixture than last year, the Cowboys did little to please coach Leroy Bates other than take the victory.

They committed 15 turnovers, hit just 23 of 63 shots from the field (37 per cent) and 16 of 26 from the line (62 per cent).

“Tonight was just crazy,” Bates said. “I don't know if it was because we were playing at SeaGate or what, but we didn't play very good team basketball.”

Libbey's saving grace, however, was tenacious rebounding against the bigger Rams that produced a 47-33 edge on the boards. Also, the Cowboys forced 18 Ram turnovers.

“Our personnel is guard-heavy,” Bates said, “and when you have that many guards, it's hard to find an appropriate role for all of them; one they accept. We're trying to fit those pieces together.

“We played much better defense in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. We really challenged the guys because the game was too tight and when it's like that, anything can happen.”

Rogers (1-3, 0-1) stayed close for three quarters. Paced by the slick work of 6-2 junior swingmen Michael Kahn (17 points) and Dominique Harrison (11 points, six rebounds), the Rams trailed just 35-33 at halftime and 46-43 entering the fourth quarter.

But, after two Keith Hopings free throws pulled Rogers within 46-45 with 6:31 remaining, Libbey had five steals and the Ram offense disintegrated.

“Our execution in the low post hurt us in the fourth quarter,” Ram coach Charles Gibson said. “We didn't fight to get position. I was proud of our effort, but I was not proud of our rebounding. We didn't box out. It was just a situation where (Libbey) wanted it a little more.”

Rogers, which shot 40 per cent from the field (20 of 50) and 58 per cent from the line (11 of 19), got 10 points from Eric Jones.

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