Rebels squirt past Bulldogs

By Michelle Pope

   During Hampton's second chance to beat the undefeated Sullivan South Rebels, the Bulldogs snarled and snapped, but failed to come out as top dog. After a game filled with lead changes, South held the upper hand when it counted, finishing with a 50-44 win.
   "They come in here 6 and 0 tonight, and I think we made them earn it," said Hampton coach Bud Hazelwood of his team's effort. "We played hard; I can't ask for anything else."
   The 'Dogs took a gigantic leap early in the game, led by Zack Trivette and Shane Campbell. With seven and six points scored in the first quarter by the duo, the Rebels were faced with the task of doubling their score to catch up to Hampton's 17-8 lead by the time the first buzzer sounded.
   "I didn't really like their effort there in the first half," said Mark Pendleton of his Rebel team. "We played bad in the first half because of Hampton. Their defense did a good job of guarding us. I give them a lot of credit."
   South bounced back before the half ended, matching Hampton's score, and adding an extra point for good measure. Within the first three minutes of the quarter, Mitch Beddingfield scored on all four of his free throws, Beau Hauldren made two baskets, and Evvan Tolly put in a pass from under the net. Hampton's only answer was a wide shot from Adam Miller.
   The second half of the game was a defensive struggle the entire sixteen minutes. After Levi Ashworth scored on a South rebound, nudging his team further into the 26-23 lead, Hampton scored seven unanswered points.
   Trivette made a shot from outside the paint and Jordan Honeycutt hovered under the basket to toss in a pass from halfcourt. Lucas Honeycutt shot a two, and cushioned it with a free throw.
   "We're making strides," said Hazelwood. "We've had some hurt and some no longer with us, and we've just had to make some adjustments. We're doing a better job."
   The Rebels wouldn't let themselves be pushed around by the 'Dogs for long. They took control of the end of the quarter, scoring nine points, and once again, ending the quarter one point ahead of Hampton, with a score of 37-36.
   As the tension rose on both benches, and the pressure grew on the court, both teams became locked in a battle for control of both the ball and the game. Two and a half minutes of scoreless defensive action passed in the final quarter before a foul was called and Trivette took his place at the line, sinking both shots.
   The two baskets opened the gates for a flood of scoring on both sides. Fouls were exchanged like gifts at a "secret santa" party as each player pushed to put his team in the lead before the buzzer.
   Timmy Joe Meade scored on a South rebound, and made the resulting foul shot. The scene repeated itself on the other end of the court, as Trivette flipped a pass into the basket, was fouled, and made the free throw.
   Halfway into the final quarter, the score was still bouncing back and forth more than the basketball, as South pulled ahead again, 42-41. The Rebels managed to maintain the hold as the clock ticked to less than a minute, taking advantage of Hampton's fouls to score points without the time pressure.
   "The second half, we got a little bit luckier. We got some stuff in transition there," Pendleton said.
   In the final minute, South scored three points from the foul line, by Beddingfield, Ashworth, and Ben Conoway. The Rebels only fouled the 'Dogs once, and Daniel Smith made the final point of the game from his foul shot.
   "We can't get out and play the type of defense that we want to play," Hazelwood said. "We had to make some adjustments in our defense; back off some of them a little bit and play more containment than pressure. For the most part, it worked. They're a solid ball club - 7 and 0 now, so they're pretty solid."