Early in the 2005-06 basketball season, the Harlem Bulldogs already have seen a full year's worth of close games.
The Bulldogs had lost three straight games by seven points or less when they took the court Friday night for a region game against Glenn Hills.
After so many close losses, Harlem left nothing to chance with its impressive 64-47 victory over the Spartans in front of a home crowd.
"It was a big win for us," Harlem coach Kim Chambers said. "We've been in a hurry to shoot, but tonight we spread them out and got quality shots."
The win came with seniors Ajay Miller (18 points) and Sean Hackshaw (16 points) leading the way.
"It feels good," Harlem senior Ajay Miller said. "I keep saying it's not about the points. I'm just glad to get a win."
Twelve of Miller's 18 points came in the second half, and the starting forward shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. In Harlem's past four contests, Miller is averaging 22.5 points per game.
Still, Miller recognized where the scoring came from Friday night.
"The defense was the offense tonight," he said. "We knew we could get them man-to-man."
The tight defensive pressure allowed the Bulldogs to take a 33-26 halftime lead.
In the second half, Harlem took control through clock management and ball possession.
"We played as a team for the first time this year," senior Eric Beard said. "When we got up we wanted to make them play at our pace."
While the Bulldog defense held Glenn Hills' leading scorer Chris Reynolds scoreless in the second half, Harlem used a spread offense to keep the clock running.
"They did an excellent job of spreading us out and using the clock against us," Glenn Hills coach Richard Wallace said.
Harlem ended the game with a 9-0 run for their third win of the season.
In the girls' game, the Lady Bulldogs came up on the short end of a 36-34 nail-biter.
Harlem senior April Woodard tallied a game-high 17 points with a near-perfect fourth quarter.
The starting guard hit 10-of-12 free throws in the final quarter and totaled 12 points to bring the Lady Bulldogs, who trailed by as much as 11 points in the game, to within one of the Lady Spartans with 22 seconds left.
Glenn Hills' Victoria Whitfield, however, knocked down three out of four free throws to seal the win.
The Harlem boys and girls will hit the road but stay in Columbia County to face Greenbrier Friday night at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
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