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Cougars saving room for dessert

March 05, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - Making her team's first trip to the Class AAA state basketball tournament since 1985, Jefferson guard Lindsay Edwards says that whatever happens - starting with Wednesday night's quarterfinal game against defending champion Capital - will be icing.

The Cougars just hope their frosting doesn't come in the form of that cake-in-the-face trick.

Jefferson is a definite underdog in the tournament, especially opening with another set of Cougars that is on a serious roll. Capital is undefeated on the season and is the odds-on favorite to win again.

"I enjoy being in that role," center Sheron Yates said. "It's going to let us show what we can do, and maybe show some other people as well."

Now, Jefferson doesn't have a chip on its shoulder, but it's not about to say, "Thanks for the beating," either.

"It's completely possible for us to win," Jefferson coach Cheryl Roberts said. "We still believe that they have to play us, too. We've got some positive points on this team that they may have never seen. And they have everything to lose."

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Jefferson (20-4) has plenty to gain as well. An upset victory would negate plenty of Eastern Panhandle-bashing and give the fun-loving Cougars another game to hang around the Charleston Civic Center.

The big, cavernous and soon-to-be filled with screaming basketball fans Charleston Civic Center.

"We've just got to stay calm and not panic," Edwards said. "We're high school kids, they're high school kids. If we start fine, it'll make everybody more relaxed."

"People have asked us about the arena and everything, and we can't control that," Roberts said. "This game's as much psychological as it is physical. If our eyes are on the prize, we should do fine."

For Jefferson, the key is keeping up with Capital, a team built on speed and a 10-player rotation.

"With Southern Garrett, we didn't know much, just that they were good. We lost by five," Roberts said. "Keyser the first time, same thing, and we lost by one. Then the second time, look what happened.

"Sometimes you don't have to know everything about a team. If you get out of your own system before the game's even started, you've already lost."

But if this set of senior-laden Cougars can keep up with the other, much-more publicized set of Cougars ... well, look out.

"If we get past the first round, we've got a really good shot," Edwards said, then laughed. "But that first one is a toughie."

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