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Published: Saturday, 1/16/2010

Waite tops Rogers with big finish

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Basketball games and seasons have ebbs and flows for most teams, and last night visiting Rogers ebbed down the stretch while the Waite Indians flowed to 27 fourth-quarter points in rallying to a 68-63 City League victory.

The Indians (5-4, 3-1 CL) rode the strong inside play of 6-foot-7 senior center Antonio Allen, who had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and the all-around play of junior guard Ke-Sean Harris, who emerged from first-half foul trouble to notch 18 of his game-high 27 points.

Their combined work culminated in Waite's crucial 27-19 fourth-quarter edge, which erased the Rams' 44-41 lead heading in.

It also enabled the Indians to create a log jam for second place in the City League standings behind first-place preseason favorite St. John's Jesuit (4-0). Waite and Rogers are now tied with Central Catholic, Libbey and St. Francis at 3-1.

"We just knew in the second half we had to come out and go to work," Allen said. "We couldn't look back to the past, so we just had to get down to business."

And, how did they manage the 27-point final quarter?

"I didn't even know it was that much," Allen said. "We must have kicked it in gear. It was emotion. It seems like our chemistry is good, so we can get on the same track and go to work."

Back to ebbs and flows, Waite has won five of its last six games, including three wins in CL play, after starting 0-3, 0-1. Rogers (6-2 overall) on the other hand was humbled after last week's uplifting 89-71 win over Libbey.

Harris, who was 10-for-10 from the foul line in the game, meshed eight of those as part of his 14-point final quarter, and Allen added eight points and five boards in that pivotal period.

Harris had gone to the bench with his second foul midway in the second quarter, and Waite watched a 21-18 lead disappear into a 28-26 Rogers lead at the break, as lightning-quick Rams junior guard Damond Powell scored 12 of his team-high 19 points.

"We talked about talking care of the ball and executing some of our half-court offenses," Waite coach Dave Pitsenbarger said of his halftime talk.

"We thought we might be able to pound it inside. We have two or three bigs, bigger than they have, so we were hoping to get the ball into Allen. He finished for us tonight."

With Harris back aboard to start the third quarter, Waite eventually found its rhythm, and took a brief 35-33 lead on the first of Allen's two three-point plays after the break with 4:13 left in the third.

"We got hot, we were running the floor, they got tired, and their big man was in foul trouble, so we took advantage of that," Harris said of the stretch run. "[Allen] played big tonight. He was our key player. He got a lot of rebounds on offense and defense. This was a good win in the City."

Rogers quickly regrouped from Waite's 9-1 run, however, and pushed its lead back to 41-35 on Chris Kight's three-point play 66 seconds later.

After seven lead changes to open the fourth quarter, the Indians took the lead for good at 52-51 on Allen's eight-foot bank shot with 4:49 remaining.

When Allen took a nifty feed from Harris and rammed down a one-handed dunk, and completed the three-point play with 2:01 left, Waite had a 62-55 lead.

Rogers got within three points twice down the stretch, but could get no closer.

"We didn't do anything," Rogers coach Earl Morris said. "We didn't rebound, we got totally away from the gameplan, and we got satisfied with beating Libbey.

"We've either got to live and learn or it's going to happen again. They dominated us in all phases of the game tonight, so we've got to wake up and get ready to play, or the same thing is going to happen again."

Waite was 23-of-55 from the field, 20-of-26 from the line, and outrebounded Rogers 45-33 to offset 22 turnovers.

The Rams were 21-of-63 from the field, 17-of-24 from the line, and had 16 turnovers.

Junior Dishon Harris added 11 points for Waite, and Rogers got nine points apiece from Glandoy Hill and Kight.

"The thing I'm happy about is that we're playing better as a team," Pitsenbarger said. "Early on we had some concerns. But the past two weeks the kids have picked it up at practice, and they're starting to believe in themselves again.

"We're just going to take it one game at a time because the City is tough up and down."

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.



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