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Bulldogs begin state tourney tonight

March 13, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - From Day One, the Martinsburg basketball team have had their season laid out like the footprints from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

Step by step, the Bulldogs have cha-chaed their way to the West Virginia State basketball tournament. It started when Martinsburg was voted the preseason No. 1 in the state poll. Now it's time to find out if it can waltz into a championship.

Martinsburg two-steps into the Class AAA quarterfinals today at 7:45 p.m. against Riverside at the Charleston Civic Center. It's the beginning strides for what coach Dave Rogers and the Bulldogs say they hope will be a victory dance come Saturday.

"Our goal was to go undefeated this season," Martinsburg center Kevin Pittsnogle said. "We didn't accomplish that, but we have been undefeated against West Virginia teams. We have made steps and reached some smaller goals, but our main goal is to win a championship and to have a great season. We have seven seniors and we all want to go out with a win."

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Martinsburg enters the tournament as the No. 2 team in the state, behind South Charleston, the Bulldogs' possible opponent in Friday's semifinals. It all goes to show that even though they are considered second best in the state, the 'Dogs have a lot of work ahead of them.

"We are No. 2, so that means we have to try harder," Rogers said. "That's where we are ... trying harder. Six of the eight teams in the tournament are rated in the Metro Power Index. This is a great field of teams featuring some great big men."

The list includes Pittsnogle, the 6-foot-10 center who has committed to play for West Virginia University next season. While the retirement of WVU coach Gale Catlett leaves Pittsnogle's future up in the air for now, he attempts to take care of the business at hand.

The stage changes for the Bulldogs after their easy victory over Keyser to move into the state field. But the atmosphere and the 'Dogs' pedigree gives Martinsburg a valid shot.

"We have a lot of seniors on this team like we did in 1994 (Martinsburg's state championship season)," Rogers said. "Riverside is athletic. They are big and quick and when you have a combination like that, it's dangerous. We have to get past the first night to be able to worry about the second."

And if all goes well, Rogers says he might have the chances to relive 1994 all over again.

"I'd love to visualize what we had in '94," Rogers said. "The only time there is a difference between being No. 1 and No. 2 in the state will be at 9:30 Saturday night (after the state finals). I'd love to have that happy feeling on Saturday, but I need to be happy (tonight) first."

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