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Magic puts pressure on Humana team

(ran PAS edition)

The wily veterans nearly won Thursday night's Land O'Lakes Recreational Basketball League game between Humana Health Care and the Magic.

Humana, whose players average 38 years old, took a 33-28 halftime lead in a showdown of the top two 18-and-older division teams. But Humana was done in by three straight turnovers late in the game and lost 59-51.

"Take 10 years off us and we blow them out," said guard Henry McMullen, who paced Humana with 14 points.

"That's the closest anybody's come to beating us," said Magic coach Danny Portalatin. "I got the word they've been practicing all week, because nobody's been able to beat us."

The Magic remained unbeaten at 8-0 and clinched the division title by forcing Humana to cough up the ball and scoring the last 10 points of the game. Bob Baucom's layup with 2:16 left lifted Humana to a 51-49 lead before the Magic's late run, punctuated by Matt Wefel's two dunks.

"We handle the ball, we beat them," said McMullen, adding that his teammates played well against the Magic.

In the final minutes, Portalatin instructed his players, most of whom are in their 20s, to "play them tight. Put the pressure on them and they're going to lose the ball and that's what happened."

Dave Rivera, whose basket at the buzzer pulled the Magic within five points at the half, scored a game-high 16 points. Wefel contributed 14 and Vin Cruise 11, which included a layup that put the Magic ahead at 53-51.

Dean Edwards had nine points for the Magic, but was ejected with 3:05 remaining in the game after being called for his second technical foul. After Edwards left the game, Humana scored the next seven points to turn a five-point deficit into a two-point lead before the Magic's rally.

The loss dropped Humana to 5-2. The team dropped a 78-58 decision to the Magic earlier this season.

The Magic faced Humana on Thursday without its top two scorers _ Elliot McNair and Keith Bowman, both of whom average more than 20 points a game. McNair is out with a sprained ankle and Bowman has a hyperextended knee.

The Magic also had to do without Troy Casten, who watched from the bench after suffering a concussion last week.

"I can't remember anything" he said of the head injury. "I'm just going to rest for a couple of weeks, because we don't have a game next week. If I get hit again . . ."

Casten, a 22-year-old student at the University of Florida, also missed an intramural basketball game Tuesday at the Gainesville campus.

The Magic have a bye this week in the 10-game regular season.

_ If you have recreation news, call 226-3342.

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