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Hoops notes - Rivalries music to all ears

February 02, 2001

Hoops notes - Rivalries music to all ears



The high level of emotion that comes with playing an arch-rival can knock a team right off its rhythm, and sometimes, right out of a game.

But every once in a while, you get a game that turns into a symphony, with perfect ebbs and flows and not a missed note on the way to a thrilling crescendo.

And then there are games that end up like a second-grade band concert, filled with plenty of mistakes and frustration.

The only common denominator is that plenty of people are still clapping at the end.

Five games that ranged between those two extremes took place in the last week.

Friday: Hedgesville boys at Martinsburg. This one carries the biggest crowds, simply because of the cavernous surroundings of Martinsburg Field House. It loses a little luster because the teams normally play three or four times a season, but playing in front of a couple thousand of your best friends and worst enemies helps out.

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This year's 63-57 win for Martinsburg, fell right in the middle of the spectrum. Both teams showed flashes of brilliance, but never could get things fully untracked. Buck Springette led the Martinsburg charge with 25 points, but even he blew a dunk and missed a couple of free throws at the end.

Meanwhile, Hedgesville kept snuffing out its own rallies with simple turnovers in the half-court set, never giving their notorious student section a chance to come alive.

"You know in this game you'll have to weather the storm in the first couple minutes. We did that and had the opportunity to make our own storm. We didn't."

Monday: North Hagerstown at South Hagerstown. The city series has always drawn a crowd, but not like the one that packed the South High field house in a long time. Although the team's shooting percentages didn't belay the intensity of the game (North 34.7, South 41.6), the sheer athleticism displayed on every key play left the sellout crowd in a tizzy long past Domonique Richmond's 3 rimmed out at the buzzer to give North a 63-62 victory.

"This was a great game. And it's always a good rivalry," North's Scott Rice said. "This is huge."

"It's very frustrating to lose by a point to North," South center Mike Lee said. "But we get them again next week (Feb. 9)."

Tuesday: Greencastle boys and girls at James Buchanan. With the two teams placed in the same Mid Penn division, it's fed even more fuel to the fire between the two schools separated by 10 miles of State Route 16 pavement.

Add in the Blue Devils' girls desperation to right a wrecked season and the Rockets' need for wins to make the playoffs - and you've got a whole lot of fun that resulted in a 48-43 win for JB.

"We were so up at the beginning of this one," said Rockets coach John Lum, whose team raced to a 13-point lead late in the second quarter and then hung on. "That emotional energy left us. But the mark of a good team is to find a way to win."

Three quarters full of full-court outlets and perimeter jumpers by post players showed all the fundamentals, but started grinding to a halt in the fourth quarter. Regardless, when the home team hits its free throws in the clutch, there's a little more appreciation under the cirucumstances.

"This was very big," said JB's Mandy Myers, who went 4-for-4 from the line in the final minute. "We knew we needed the win or we were out of the playoffs."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> The boys game, aesthetically, represented the low point. Airballs around, silly fouls, pointless turnovers. Both teams blew a lead in the second half.

It was all forgotten in the final 95 seconds, though. Down four, JB got a three-point play from Andy Ryder to cut it to one and then sent its best free-throw shooter, Matt Piper, to the line for the lead. He made one of two to tie it, then compounded his frustration with a foul on Greencastle's Alex Denkovich with four seconds left.

Denkovich hit the first of two for a 49-48 victory - Greencastle's second comeback win of the season vs. the Rockets.

"They stuck to their pressure on us and we didn't react," JB coach Larry Strawoet said. "It's a rivalry game. It's never over in those."

Wednesday: St. James girls at Mercersburg. Doesn't sound like a rivalry. Some would argue it doesn't even look like one at times, but the two boarding schools have a friendly banter going between them, at the worst.

It got a little help this year when Carl Muller took over at Mercersburg and got three games against Ted Camp. The two have been friends since time spent at New England prep schools.

Mercersburg got its biggest win of the series with a 46-30 win, but the best moment came between the two coaches. After getting a call, Camp shot Muller a "ha-so-there" look, and nearly got T'd up by the official, who didn't know the two's friendship.

This week's notebook compiled by staff writer Dan Spears.

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