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Published: 1/20/2009

Libbey, Scott fall in MLK Classic

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Scott guard Vernon Freeman drives to the hoop between Akron Buchtel defenders Steve Hargrove (22) and Tajh Dent (11). Scott guard Vernon Freeman drives to the hoop between Akron Buchtel defenders Steve Hargrove (22) and Tajh Dent (11).
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Keeping with tradition, the 13th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Classic brought in some strong competition to face City League members Libbey and Scott Monday at Owens Community College.

The local entries were simply outclassed, as Detroit Pershing, Michigan's top-ranked Class A team, hammered Libbey's rebuilding Cowboys 86-57, and Akron Buchtel handled Scott's roster-depleted Bulldogs 64-52.

Libbey (2-5) graduated nine seniors from its Division II state runner-up squad, which was led by 2008 Ohio Mr. Basketball William Buford (now at Ohio State).

The lone holdover with any significant varsity experience is senior guard Brandon Ham, who paced the Cowboys with 18 points Monday.

But Ham might've felt like Gary Cooper in the classic movie High Noon in this Classic matchup against the 10-0 Doughboys, who feature bookend 6-9 senior forwards Derrick Nix and Tevin Conrad, an imposing duo that goes 285 and 295 pounds, respectively.

Nix, a Michigan State recruit, and Conrad actually came off the bench for the 2008 state runners-up against Libbey, which was picked apart by guards Keith Appling (24 points) and Deon Desmuke (19 points). Nix added seven points and 10 rebounds.

The Cowboys fell behind 9-1 and trailed 22-11 after one quarter thanks to Desmuke's 11 points. Appling, a smooth 6-2 junior, did most of his damage in the middle quarters, scoring 10 points in each as Pershing built a 55-41 lead heading to the fourth. He was named MVP of the Classic.

"They're a real tough, talented team that plays well together," first-year Libbey coach Keith McClure said of Pershing. "We're taking some lumps but we're improving. We hung around today. The kids didn't quit. We just played a good team today and we've been playing good teams.

"This group is new to the varsity experience, and they're hanging in there. We're going to get better."

The Doughboys were 32-of-74 (43 percent) from the field, 16-of-24 from the line, outrebounded Libbey 49-35, and forced 25 Cowboys turnovers while committing 16.

"It's a big learning experience," Ham said of the rebuilding mission. "You've got to roll with the punches and hopefully get better in the middle of the season. We're getting better and working harder as a team. It's frustrating but, at the same time, it'll get better."

Libbey, which was 15-of-51 (29 percent) from the field and 21-of-29 from the line, got 14 points from junior Brandon Underwood and nine from sophomore Maurice Taylor.

In the first game, Scott (3-7) started out hot, hitting its first five shots during a game-opening 11-2 run that led to a 20-11 edge after one quarter.

But the next 13 minutes were a disaster for the Bulldogs (3-7), who were outscored 18-2 in the second quarter, part of a larger 34-4 Buchtel run that broke the game open.

"They were still in a 2-2-1 press, and for some reason we didn't get the ball in the middle," Scott coach Joe Suboticki said of his team's collapse. "Our heads blew up, and we went from a nine-point lead in the first quarter to being outscored by 16 in the second, and then it just carried on.

"We made a little comeback and cut it a little bit, but the game was over by then."

Scott's only points in the second quarter came 2:16 in on Vernon Freeman's 16-footer from the right wing for a 22-15 Bulldogs lead. The Griffins took charge from there, closing the half with 14 straight points for a 29-22 lead.

The Bulldogs, who went scoreless for a span of 7:32, ended a run of 10 straight missed field-goal attempts on Devore Clark's tip-in basket 1:48 into the third quarter.

But that was a pebble in the road for the streaking Griffins (7-2), who began the third quarter with a 16-2 surge that began and ended with slam dunks from 6-6 senior forward Tiondre Johnson, who mixed four dunks into his team-high 14 points. He also topped Buchtel with eight rebounds.

Johnson's windmill slam punctuated the 34-4 surge, giving Buchtel a 45-24 lead with

3:31 left in the third quarter.

Led by 6-2 senior guard Freeman (24 points), the Bulldogs finally regrouped from the long drought, using a 16-6 spurt to get within 51-40 on Isiah Wilson's driving layup with 5:01 remaining in the game. But Scott could get no closer from there.

"We got big-headed and laid off the pressure," Freeman said of Buchtel's surge. "We stopped swinging the ball [against zone] and we didn't rebound. We fell in love with the three and didn't pass the rock. When we missed the three, they'd get a transition layup."

Buchtel was 25-of-56 (45 percent) from the field, 12-of-16 from the line and outrebounded the Bulldogs 39-33. Scott was 24-of-60 (40 percent) from the field and did not score a single point from the foul line on four attempts in the game.

Kendrick King grabbed nine rebounds for Scott.

Joining Pershing's Appling and Desmuke on the MLK Classic all-tournament team were Buchtel's Johnson and Marwan Muhammad along with Scott's Freeman and Libbey's Ham.

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.

LAKOTA 72, GIBSONBURG 71

MILLBURY - Lakota outscored Gibsonburg 15-4 in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 62 and force overtime.

Scott Hoffman led the Raiders with 18. Jake Wiseman and Josh Kelly each had 16.

Tony Egbert led Gibsonburg with 20. Lee Renner had 18 and T.J. Bown 15.

START 49, GREEN 38

BERLIN, Ohio - Start took an 11-point lead into halftime and maintained the margin for a victory at the Classic in Country tournament.

Jaymie Jackson and Yolanda Richardson each had 12 points for the Spartans (9-3). Jaime Williams added 10.

LAKE 61, WOODMORE 26

ELMORE - Kaysie Brittenham had 19 points for the Flyers (11-0, 7-0 SLL). Lauren Lind added 12.

Wodmore fell to 4-8, 2-5.

EVERGREEN 65,

TOLEDO CHRISTIAN 27

METAMORA - Lauren Langenderfer scored 19, Taylor Langenderfer had 15 and Kenzie Pinkleman 10 for Evergreen (5-3).

Lindsay Harder led Toledo Christian (4-6) with 10 points.

EMMANUEL CHRISTIAN 45,

MAUMEE VALLEY 25

Emily Loomis scored 13 points and Lexie Weaver 10 for the Warriors (2-10, 1-5).

Nollie Brown paced Maumee Valley (2-9, 0-5) with 11.



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