By Pat Magers
NORTH BALTIMORE - As might be expected from a 10-8 record, Hopewell-Loudon's season has been a mixed bag of ups and downs.
Hopewell-Loudon’s Waleed Salem drives through the North Baltimore defense of Levi Newcomer (left) and Derek McMahan.
For a synopsis, one could simply refer to the fourth quarter of the Midland Athletic League battle against North Baltimore here Friday night.
First, the Chieftains fashioned a rally from what had been a 13-point deficit in the third period to build a 41-35 lead with a little more than three minutes to play.
The margin was still 48-45 on Ben Bodart's foul shot with 20.3 seconds left but a chance to seal went by the wayside with two misses from the line with 5.4 ticks remaining. The Tigers' Chad Wright rebounded and called time with 3.8 seconds showing.
With a foul to give, Ryan Depinet quickly hacked Jacob Frost, who then turned and winged a wild heave toward his basket. The ploy worked as Frost was ruled to have been in the act of shooting and received three shots.
But he missed the first, made the second and his intentional miss on the third was grabbed by H-L's Ryan Lommerse to preserve 48-46 win.
"Ryan Depinet did exactly what we asked him to do," H-L coach Adam Smith said of the final moment of suspense. "The lead official gave (Frost) three shots.
"Give Frost credit," Smith said. "He heard the whistle and threw it from three-quarter court. But with three seconds still on the clock, he obviously wasn't starting his shooting motion from 70 feet."
The Chieftains, who improved to 6-2 in league play, edged ahead 20-18 at the half behind Garret Sendelbach.
Sendelbach scored 12 of his team's first 14 points, including a rare 4-point play. He finished with 17 to lead H-L.
"We were concentrating our defense on Lommerse," NB coach Jon Eichar said of the Chieftains' season-long scoring leader. "But then Sendelbach got us. We shut down one guy, but another guy got us."
But the Chieftain game went frigid to start the second half. The Tigers opened with a 15-0 run highlighted by Frost's two 3-pointers. He had five for the night on the way to 18 points.
North Baltimore owned a 33-20 lead before freshman Gauge Sadler hit a 3-pointer with 2:16 left in the quarter to get the Chieftains started.
"We talked at halftime about attacking the basket a little more and the need to make the extra pass instead of settling," Eichar said. "Things went just like we planned in the third quarter and then they sort of fell apart for us in the fourth."
The turnaround came when Smith shifted the defense from a zone to man-to-man.
"The 2-3 had been so good for us for a while now that we thought we'd stay with it," he said. "But we lost a couple guys in the corners. Frost, he was the one guy we talked about that can't be lost. But we did.
"But when we went to man, it was boom, boom, boom and we were right back in it," he said.
This time, the Tigers went a little more than five minutes without scoring. Meanwhile, including five points in the final 25 seconds of the third period, the Chieftains rattled off 16 straight points for the 41-35 edge.
Sadler, who had 10 points, hit another 3-pointer and turned a steal into a layup during the run.
"I grabbed him early in the third quarter and asked him if he was here," Smith said. "He's our best spot shooter on the team and he's catching the ball and not even looking to shoot. I told him, 'I'm going to put you here on the bench if you don't catch and shoot. That's why you're out there.'"
"He hit a couple big 3s, he took the ball to the hoop and our stats show he had 10 rebounds," Smith said.
Lommerse was limited to a pair of field goals, but got to the line to make nine foul shots for 13 total. Wright had eight and Levi Newcomer seven to back Frost for the Tigers.