Packers can’t hold on

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2007

SMITHFIELD-Sometimes the easiest parts of the game can cause a head coaches the most problems.

Smithfield head coach Steve Artis may have felt those same sentiments after his Packer team blew a five-point lead with under four minutes to go in their 48-45 loss to the Jamestown Eagles on Wednesday in the season opener for both schools.

Leading 42-37 with 3:51 left on the clock, the Packers were at the free-throw line with a chance to increase the margin to seven.

They did not convert.

Smithfield shot a dreadful 2-for-10 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, including missing their last five free throws, denying any chance of them stealing a road win.

“It was the fundamentals,” Artis said. “Missed free throws, missed layups, turnovers – they were a major factor that caused us to lose the game. We worked hard, but we didn’t dig down deep enough.”

After scoring only four first-quarter points, the Eagles caught fire in the second quarter and took the lead with a 9-0 run. Jamestown led 22-19 at halftime on the strength of 12 first-half points from Steven Bennett, who finished with a game-high 17 points.

The third quarter was the best of the night for Smithfield, which outscored the Eagles 16-8 to take a 35-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Both teams made scoring runs in the final period. Jamestown began the final stanza with a three from Bennett and a layup by Myles Antonini. That was followed by a 6-0 spurt by Smithfield to push their lead back to five.

Jamestown took the lead two minutes later after a 6-0 run made the score 43-42.

The Eagles went up by four with 48 seconds remaining, but a basket by Pittman reduce the lead to two with 23 seconds left. The Packers had a chance to tie with 12 seconds left on the clock, but Lamonte Baldwin was not able to convert the free throws.

Rodrick Bowser finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds for the Packers, while CJ Pittman scored 10 points off the bench.

Keyandre Grant added 8 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.