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Bulldogs want long, not short, trip

March 09, 1999|By DAN SPEARS

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The pairings for the West Virginia Girls Basketball Tournament clearly show that Martinsburg will face Capital at 7:45 Wednesday in the Class AAA quarterfinals at the Charleston Civic Center.

But you'll have to excuse the Bulldogs for continually making references to Fairmont Senior when it comes to preparations for the next game.

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"I loved that game," forward Maggie Robinson said. "I loved it."

"If we play like we did against Fairmont, we'll be all right," guard Tiffany Twigg said.

The Bulldogs (19-4, No. 2 Herald-Mail poll) will be more than all right if they can repeat their 75-56 thrashing of the Polar Bears at Martinsburg Field House on Feb. 20.

"We should have confidence we can play with anyone else in the state," head coach Don Bullett said. "When you beat the No. 3 team in the state by 19 late in the season, it shows ... you're making strides in the right direction."

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The Bulldogs will make what has now become a normal trip to Charleston - this is their 11th straight region title. But even though a trip to states has become the rule in Martinsburg, bringing home any hardware has been a rare exception.

"We know what we have to do," senior center LaToya Parks said. "A lot of us are tired of going down there and then coming back the next day. If that happens again, we've got to go back to school on Friday.

"We want to go down there and win and prove to people here that we can do it."

Last year, a first-round loss was also expected. But Martinsburg started three freshmen and had a lighter schedule in that quarterfinal loss to George Washington. Now those sophomores - Twigg, Robinson and Erika Pittsnogle - are back, and have played better against a better schedule.

"Before ... we were a little unsure if we could compete," Bullett said. "We've played teams this year, and we've pressed them. When you can do those things, you can play with them."

"Last year, we didn't really know what to expect," Twigg said. "Now, we know what's going to happen. It's just another game to us."

But this won't be another game. Guard Allison Mulford, who has rotated between the starting lineup and the sixth-man spot all season, probably won't play in the tournament after injuring her ankle in practice over the weekend.

"We're just going to have to be ready to play," Robinson said. "No ifs, ands or buts about it."

Bullett thinks if the Bulldogs can think their way past the situation, there won't be any problems in Charleston this time around.

"For us, it's mental," Bullett said. "The open gym, big crowds, all the atmosphere - you just gotta tighten your sneaks, pull up your shorts ...

It was as if Parks read his mind when she finished his sentence.

"And go out there and play."

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