published Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Indians hold off taller Hawks

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. -- Sequatchie County basketball coach Jason Smith can attribute Friday's win over Hamilton Heights to the play of the "30s" -- posts Rodney Smith, Dakota Hudson and Kegan Frederick, who coincidentally wear Nos. 30, 32 and 34.

It also helped to have another 30, as in 31, the number of points senior guard Daniel Cartwright scored.

The trio of inside players neutralized the larger Hawks' lineup on the boards in the second half, and Cartwright scored 23 of his game-high total in the second and fourth quarters in leading the Indians to a 56-43 victory in the South Pittsburg Christmas Classic.

The Indians (13-2) went 4-0 during the five-day event. It didn't seem as though that would be the case early in the game, as the Hawks grabbed eight offensive rebounds and held a 24-11 edge on the boards in the first 16 minutes.

Hamilton Heights also played a 2-3 zone and with a backline measuring 6-foot-5, 6-6, 6-7 and 6-9 limited the Indians' chances in the early going. The Hawks got into foul trouble in the second quarter, as starting guards Jhony Monteiro and Felipe Goncalves each registered his third foul before the break.

The Indians upped the pressure defensively and had steals leading to layups on a 14-3 run in the final 4:24 of the half. Cartwright got going, scoring 12 of the team's 17 second-quarter points, including a 3-pointer at the horn to give Sequatchie a 27-25 edge.

"In the first half, they really took it to us," Smith said. "They're huge and have a lot of big kids, and I challenged those guys to limit them to one shot. Offensively, we were stagnant and not attacking the gaps and not doing a good job of moving the zone."

There were three ties in the early moments of the third quarter, but a 9-2 run by the Indians gave them a healthy 40-33 lead going into the fourth. Hamilton Heights closed to within 48-43 on a steal and layup by Goncalves with three minutes to go, but Cartwright scored Sequatchie's final eight points to seal the win.

Smith, Hudson and Frederick helped the Indians grab 15 second-half rebounds, equal to the Hawks' total. Hudson finished with a team-high 10. Velibor Njegovanovic and Rokas Paulauskas each had 11 rebounds for the Hawks.

"It really hurt us when our guards got in foul trouble," Hamilton Heights coach Bill Eller said. "It changed the whole perspective of the game, because how they go is how we go. We still had some guys that can rebound, dribble and shoot, but Sequatchie turned the pressure up on us and we panicked.

"You have to give credit to them."

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