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Eagles' group mentality singles out Cougars

March 01, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Rusty Barrett was reluctantly saddled with a double identity on Wednesday, posing as media darling and Public Enemy No. 1 in Jefferson County.

The Hedgesville senior stood in the crosshairs of every local news outlet this side of Field & Stream after scoring a game-high 24 points to lead the Eagles to a 61-58 victory over Jefferson in the West Virginia Class AAA Region II, Section 1 semifinal at Martinsburg Field House.

But while Barrett was front and center for every handshake and hug from fans, film and ink and the piercing glances from Jefferson's faithful, he was more generous than grateful.

"It's a great feeling because a lot of people didn't think we could get here," Barrett said while standing in the middle of Eagle Madness. "We play like a team."

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In a game that had more twists and turns than Route 11, it was Hedgesville's teamwork that finally shook off every defensive ploy Jefferson used to earn the Eagles a chance to defend their section title against Martinsburg on Friday.

Hedgesville (16-6) busted open a game laced with 11 ties and eight lead changes with a 12-3 run midway through the fourth quarter to assume a 54-45 lead before hanging on with foul shooting to secure the win.

"I think that there were two big points in the game," Hedgesville coach Kelly Church said. "I think Jefferson got a little tired and then they got careless with the ball. But if you look at the stats in the first quarter, it didn't look like a team that was supposed to win just four games against a team that was .500."

The quality was there until Hedgesville took over with their run - a testament to teamwork personified. Down 42-40 with five minutes remaining, Patrick Miller hit a pair of foul shots to tie the game.

Hedgesville grabbed the lead at the 4:37 mark when Patrick Ashton stole a Jefferson pass to the low post and fed Miller with a long pass for a breakaway. Ashton followed with a 3 and Barrett scored on two layups, the second after some efficient passing against Jefferson's 1-3-1 zone trap, to push the lead to 51-43 with 2:42 left.

The Cougars (8-12) got back to within 58-56 when Devon Hosby stole a tipped inbounds pass and converted it with a layup with 33 seconds left. But Hedgesville took advantage of Jefferson's desperation fouls as Ashton hit two foul shots and Brian Clarke added a third to seal the win.

"We didn't change anything defensively," Barrett said. "We just played a little bit harder. Jefferson is tough, but we played like a team."

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