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Hamilton dogs her old friends

December 22, 1998

Martinsburg vs. GorettiBy DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




The Martinsburg Bulldogs knew before Tuesday night how dangerous St. Maria Goretti's Brianne Hamilton is. After all, she's a Martinsburg native and is still friends with some of the players.

But in case they forgot, Hamilton gave them another reminder, pouring in 21 points - eight in the fourth - as the No. 6 Gaels won 49-47 to stay undefeated and take the early lead in the Apple Valley Conference race.

[cont. from sports page]

"It was exciting," said Hamilton, who went 9 of 11 from the line to overcome a 5-for-15 night from the field. "I was playing in front of everyone from my hometown and my new friends here. Once I calmed down, everything was fine."

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Things were fine because the Gaels (8-0, 2-0) came out hot from the 3-point arc. All 15 of Goretti's first-quarter points came on 3s - two each from Melissa Pingley and Jen Piccolomini (17 points, five rebounds) and one from Hamilton. Goretti went 5-for-8 from the arc in the first quarter.

"That's pretty much the strategy," Pingley said. "They can't keep track of three of us."

Everything was not fine for the No. 2 Bulldogs (1-2, 1-1), who lost the lead with five minutes gone in the game - and never got it back.

"They shot outside extremely well," Martinsburg coach Don Bullett said. "We needed to do a better job early on the perimeter."

They did a great job for the rest of the game, as Goretti only went 1-for-16 from 3-point range after that. But Goretti - and mainly Hamilton - kept the lead thanks to drives to the basket. The Gaels turned the penetration into the lane into converted free throws (15 of 19) and solid mid-range shooting (8-for-18 from 2-point range).

"We just said to be patient," Goretti coach Gary Carter said. "And when you get a chance (at the basket), go."

Martinsburg never fell behind by more than five in the second half, and closed within one four times. But the Bulldogs' trademark pressure defense couldn't turn the tide, forcing only 11 turnovers, and getting no transition baskets.

"We weren't able to put the pressure on a lot, and when we did they did a good job throwing over us," Bullett said. "When you've got upperclassmen, they know what to do in that situation."

LaToya Parks (12 points) scored with 1:22 left to draw the Bulldogs within three, but Goretti worked the clock to just 10 seconds when Pingley was fouled. She injured a knee on the play, so Carter sent freshman Claire Martin - who hadn't played all night - to shoot the 1-and-1. She calmly made the first for a two-possession game, negating Tiffany Twigg's (13 points) layin at the buzzer.

As the postgame hugs and handshakes were given and received by Hamilton, all she could do was smile.

"This was just awesome," she said. "I know my Christmas is going to be great."

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