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Hampshire backs Martinsburg girls into (four) corners

February 28, 2001

Hampshire backs Martinsburg girls into (four) corners



By DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

KEYSER, W.Va. - At the beginning of the season, the girls Class AAA Region II final looked like a doozy of a game: Hampshire and Martinsburg returned nine starters from last season's powerhouse run-and-gun ballclubs, and the Bulldogs even picked up a transfer center.

Hampshire had all its starters and its run-and-gun, and the Bulldogs were left with four reserves, a four-corners offense and plenty of what-ifs as the Trojans made seven of their last eight free throws for a 45-35 victory and a second straight trip to the state tournament next week.

"All we wanted was a chance," Martinsburg coach Don Bullett said. "They had blown us out twice this year, but this gave us a chance. ... We had a shot at this."

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From the opening tip, Martinsburg (17-7) decided to keep Hampshire as far from the basket as possible. The Bulldogs' guards played keepaway as long as they could, then drove the lane to look for post players Erika Pittsnogle and Cassie Murray inside.

When Martinsburg held onto the ball, the plan worked to perfection. The Bulldogs turned it over 17 times though, including five times in its last six possessions of the first half, when the Trojans turned a 16-15 game into a 26-17 lead at halftime.

"If we were down only seven or eight, we thought we had a chance," Bullett said.

The lead stretched to as many as 13 early in the fourth quarter, and the Bulldogs never got closer than eight points, as Hampshire didn't have a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter and went 13-for-21 from the line.

As the final buzzer sounded, Pittsnogle walked off the court in tears, the last remaining senior in a star-studded class that was victimized by the injury bug. Lauren Askin and Tiffany Twigg both tore knee ligaments halfway through the season, and Maggie Robinson, last year's Herald-Mail Big School Player of the Year, didn't play Tuesday because of a concussion on Saturday.

Pittsnogle finished with eight rebounds, three assists and 18 points - including 17 of them in a row to do everything she could to keep the Bulldogs in it.

"It just tells you what kind of player she is," Bullett said. "She knew what she had to for us tonight.

"You hate to see a person like her lose, but it makes it a little bit better when she goes out with a game like that."

It just wasn't the kind of game that anyone expected.

"At the beginning of the season, we felt we had a great shot to really go some places. ... But in 17 years as a coach, I've never seen anything like (with the injuries). Just one after the other.

"But our kids left a lot out there tonight. The people of Martinsburg can be real proud of what these kids accomplished."

Hampshire 45, Martinsburg 35



HAMPSHIRE (45)

J. Davis 8, Stewart 16, S. Davis 11, Hott 2, Harding 8. Totals 14-25 16-26 45.

MARTINSBURG (35)

Johnson 3, Peters 2, Pittsnogle 18, Murray 8, Anderson 4. Totals 16-36 2-5 35.

Hampshire1313613-45

Martinsburg89414-35

Three-point goals-Hampshire 1 (Stewart), Martinsburg 1 (Johnson). Fouled out-Peters, Anderson.

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