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Bulldogs win in 'zone'

January 27, 2003|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - For Friday night's matchup against Eastern Panhandle rival Hedgesville, the Martinsburg Bulldogs found themselves in the zone.

They shot the ball pretty well, too.

The Bulldogs used a 16-3 run to open the game and a 12-0 streak to start the second half to build a working margin, then dropped back in a rare zone defense to cross up the No. 6 Eagles in a 67-51 victory before a packed house at Martinsburg High.

Known more for playing man-to-man defensively, Martinsburg (8-3) was content to stay back and let Hedgesville fire away from the outside.

The Eagles were unable to respond consistently, shooting just 36 percent from the floor, including 9 of 24 (38 percent) from 3-point range.

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"This is the first time this year that we played a lot of zone," Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said. "Hedgesville makes a lot of passes, and we had to make sure we stopped their shooters. It worked out for us tonight."

Early foul troubles also played a part in the Bulldogs' zone-out. Point guard Brandon Barrett picked up his second foul early in the second period and spent the rest of the first half on the bench.

Barrett and forward Durrell Johnson each registered his third personal early in the third, almost forcing Rogers' hand defensively.

"It was a smart move on their part. They went to the zone to prevent foul trouble," Hedgesville coach Kelly Church said. "If you had told me before that they'd be playing zone to help themselves out, I'd have been very pleased."

Church may have been more pleased if the Eagles (9-2) hadn't needed to dig themselves out of such a deep hole in the first quarter. Martinsburg needed just six possessions - and just under three minutes - to build a double-digit lead and encourage Church to call a 30-second timeout.

"We came out of the blocks fast and that's what we wanted to do," Rogers said. "I said we wanted to pick them up as soon as they got off the bus."

The Bulldogs led by as many as 13 in the first, and even when Hedgesville cut into the lead - such as a Matt Yurish 3-pointer - Martinsburg always seemed to have an answer - such as a Barrett 3-pointer.

Hedgesville took advantage of an opportunity when Barrett left the floor in the second quarter, getting 3-pointers from Trey Hockman and Duncan Williams to spark an 11-1 run which cut the deficit to four, 29-25. The Eagles trailed by five at halftime.

"You just can't take a player like Brandon out of the game without it making a difference," Rogers said. "We're just like any other team in that. We had to ride that out."

Hedgesville's shots stopped falling when the second half started, while the Bulldogs couldn't miss. They hit five of their first six shots in the third period - including 3s from Nate Sowers and Bob Clise - to open the five-point margin to 13.

"I was extremely pleased we were able to fight back and make it a five-point game," Church said. "Then in the second half, we gave them that lead all over again."

Barrett and Jeff Horst led the Bulldogs with 16 points apiece, while Johnson and Sowers each had 15. Horst had 11 rebounds and Barrett had nine assists.

Williams led Hedgesville with 12 points. Hockman finished with 11 and Yurish had 10.

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