Tight-fisted affair sees Tigers beat 'Dogs
   * Hampton falls in OT

STAR Staff

   Who ever said that the Michigan and North Carolina basketball rivalry was dead. Well it wasn't the Wolverines and Tar Heels but the uniforms looked almost the same and by the looks of the play on the court, you couldn't tell any difference.
   Tuesday night in the last contest the Hampton Bulldogs took on the Tigers of Laurinburg Charter Institute in the first round of the McClain's/Shoun Invitation at White-VanHuss gym.
   It was as thrilling as the 1993 NCAA Championship game between the two colleges', but on the high school level it was a classic that many witnessed as the Tigers (3-0) used overtime to knock off Hampton (8-4) by the final of 80-77.
   "That was one of our worst games," said Laurinburg coach Kenneth Gordon. "We didn't do the basic fundamentals and we shouldn't have given up 77 points because we average giving up just 40."
   The Bulldogs jumped out on top in the first quarter as Kevin Harrison put Hampton up 6-2 over a very athletic and talented Laurinburg squad.
   However the Tigers behind the play of Christano Johnson made it a back and forth game for most of the first half as Laurinburg took a 35-32 lead into the lockerroom at halftime.
   "I thought we had the advantage over them defensively," said Gordon. "We're more of an athletic team which at the same time basic fundamentals win the game everytime."
   Coming out in the second half Hampton seemed to be able to stop the Tigers as they built a 10 point lead that gave the Bulldogs the momentum.
   One key reason for the Bulldogs building their lead was due to the play of Ryan Deskins who netted 14 of his 19 points in the second half.
   With about five minutes left to play and Hampton up 60-50, the Tigers huddled up on a timeout and used whatever coach Gordon said to them on the court as they came back to cut the lead down to 68-65 on a Reginald Estes three pointer going into the final minute of play.
   "Our press is the biggest part of our defense," Gordon said. "We like to force a lot of turnovers."
   Down 70-68 with just seven seconds left on the clock, Laurinburg guard Rico Santez made his way down the court to hit a jump shot at the buzzard and tying the game at 70-70 to send it into overtime.
   "We didn't do our best," said Santez. "We got off to a bad start but we put it together at the end."
   When it seemed things couldn't get any more interesting, the overtime period was as close as the fourth which set the fans up for an exciting finish.
   Hampton took a 77-76 lead late in the period but after Santez hit three of four free throws, the Tigers went up 80-77 with four seconds left.
   The Bulldogs had one last hope as they inbounded the pass but it didn't seem to be Hampton's night as the three pointer by Ensor didn't go in.
   "You hate to lose games like that," said Hampton coach Jerry White. "We gave it a super effort but they have a good ball club. We played our hearts out but came up short."
   For the Tigers Santez finished the game out with 19 points while Troy Mathis added 11 points seven rebounds.
   "That's the type of game that I expect out of Rico (Santez)," Gordon said. "He stepped up big for us tonight."
   Harrison led the way for Hampton with 21 points and six rebounds as Deskins totaled 19 points and four rebounds.
   "I was glad to see him have a good game," White said of Harrison. "He's been struggling a little bit so maybe this will boost his confidence."