02/26/11 — Camden County boys drop Rosewood

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Camden County boys drop Rosewood

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 26, 2011 11:31 PM

CAMDEN -- The chariot finally turned back into a pumpkin.

Cinderella's magical night at the ball is over.

Rosewood's final dance partner decided it wanted a new date Friday evening. Shawn Hammonds pumped in a game-high 17 points and Camden County claimed a 55-49 victory in their N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A boys' sectional championship game.

The Bears, ranked No. 7 in the latest NCpreps.com poll, earned their fifth trip to the eastern regionals, which begin next week in Fayetteville.

Cody Harris tallied a team-high 11 points for the Eagles, who were making their first sectional/district final appearance since 1976. Jonathan Franks added nine in a reserve role, while Zach Thornton chipped in eight.

Rosewood's win streak ended at five games.

The Eagles shot a playoff- and season-best 19 of 33 (58 percent) from the floor, but couldn't overcome 17 turnovers and struggled on the boards. The Bears wiped the glass for 16 offensive rebounds, which led to numerous second-chance points in each half.

"If we did get the stop that we needed, they got the offensive rebound, would reset it (their offense) and get another look," said Rosewood head coach Daniel Mitchell. "They took the ball out of our hands too many times. We really needed to do a better job on the defensive glass, and that was the difference in the ballgame."

Camden (23-5) seized control with a 14-4 run that started late in the first quarter and ended early in the second period. The Bears converted four offensive rebounds and two turnovers into 12 points and led 20-12 with 6:20 to go.

Mitchell burned a timeout to calm down his team.

The Eagles (15-10) scored 14 of the next 16 points to take a 24-22 lead. Franks, Thornton, Harris and Jyonte Raynor did the offensive damage during that stretch, which stirred the small contingent of Rosewood fans into a frenzy.

"They're one of the best man offensive teams we've played," said Camden head coach Mark Harnly. "They do a great job cutting and screening. We did a better job of jumping to the ball in the second half, and squatting in the lane.

"They shoot it great and I was very concerned in the first half."

Rosewood shot 11 of 16 from the floor in the opening half, but trailed 29-28 at the break.

The Bears held the Eagles scoreless on their first seven possessions of the third quarter before Dee Mabry converted a runner in the lane with 2:45 to go. Raynor's 3-pointer closed the gap to 36-33, but Hammonds drained two free throws and buried a 3-pointer off Matt Nelson's assist as time expired at the end of the quarter.

Camden, winner of seven straight games, kept a seven-point advantage throughout the final period. The Eagles missed chances to trim the deficit and were assessed a technical foul in the final 30 seconds for having six players on the court.

The Bears sealed the deal at the free throw line.

A misty-eyed Mitchell wiped his tears on his sleeve.

"The last couple of weeks has been an awesome ride for the team, it really has," he said. "It doesn't seem like it should be coming to an end, but I'm really proud of the guys and what they've put forth. The seniors, those guys have been our backbone this year and I hate it ends like this for them."

But what a dance to remember.