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Cougars end Martinsburg's sectional stronghold

February 25, 2002|By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - They don't award points for style in high school basketball. It really doesn't matter how you look as long as you get the job done.

It's exactly what the Jefferson girls basketball team did last night in a long-awaited 46-39 win over the Martinsburg Bulldogs to garner the Class AAA Region II Section 1 championship - snapping the Bulldogs' 14-year ownership of the title.

The last time Martinsburg wasn't sectional champion, the first George Bush was in the White House.

"They have always been the top dog since I've been here," Jefferson coach Cheryl Roberts said. "But we were determined not to walk off this floor a loser tonight."

The Bulldogs (15-8, No. 10 Herald-Mail poll) had two narrow escapes against Jefferson during the regular season, but from the start of this one, the tempo and style of the game benefitted the bigger, more physical Cougars.

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In a brutal first half that saw more bodies hit the floor than in an episode of the Sopranos, Jefferson led by only two, but had outrebounded the smaller Bulldogs, 25-7.

"We knew a key was to work hard inside," said Jefferson forward Genelle Botje, who finished with a game-high 17 points. "But the difference tonight was that we played better defense."

The Cougars (19-4) ran a painstakingly slow press in the first half that frustrated the Martinsburg offense into early turnovers, then packed into a 2-3 zone and forced the Bulldogs' attack to the perimeter.

It worked; Martinsburg ended the game shooting just 16 for 64 from the field.

"We were getting some good looks and taking good shots," Martinsburg coach Don Bullett said. "But the shots weren't dropping in for us and we were getting outrebounded."

Martinsburg led 29-28 entering the final quarter and Roberts knew it was time for her team to make a move.

"We talked about winning the game a quarter at a time, but now it was time to beef it up," Roberts said. "We were in control of the game and we needed to build on that."

Jefferson wasted little time. Guard Lindsay Edwards lobbed a low post pass into Sheron Yates who rolled it in for a lead the Cougars would never give back. Martinsburg pulled within 39-35 with 1:19 left, but Jefferson went 8-for-14 from the line to ice it.

"Well, it was nice while it lasted," Bullett said of Bulldogs championship run. "But, Jefferson was the better team here tonight."

Jefferson 46 Martinsburg 39

JEFFERSON (46)

McManus 1, Thomas 1, Edwards 4, Botje 17, Yates 10, Bradley 2, Bloomer 11. Totals 12 22-36 46.

MARTINSBURG (39)

Robinson 1, Roman 2, B. Merceruio 7, Peters 6, Williams 2, B. Lovell 5, Anderson 14. Totals 16 4-11 39.

Jefferson913618-46

Martinsburg911910-39

Three-point goals-Martinsburg 3 (Anderson 2, B. Merceruio). Fouled Out-Edwards, Robinson, Roman.

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