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Eagles swoop past Goretti

February 26, 2003|by JACK HILL III

Hedgesville proved that a girls basketball team that starts three freshmen and two juniors can go far.

The Eagles ended a highly successful regular season Tuesday by defeating St. Maria Goretti 63-41 at the Gael Center to cap a 17-4 record and a 10-0 mark in the Apple Valley League.

"This is something that the girls have worked real hard to achieve," Hedgesville coach Ben Merica said. "A lot of these girls have had some good coaching prior to coming here through the summer rec league."

Freshman point guard Miranda Reed scored a game-high 14 points to go with 10 assists for Hedgesville.

"At the beginning of the season, we were a very young team," Reed said. "We have worked real hard in practice. When we get down, we can pick it back up and work together as a team."

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Hedgesville held a 12-7 advantage over St. Maria Goretti (17-13, 4-4) at the end of the first quarter.

The Eagles extended their lead to 19-9 with 6:23 remaining in the second quarter.

But the Gaels narrowed the gap to 23-19 with 1:22 to go in the half. However, Hedgesville scored the final nine points of the first half to build a 32-19 halftime advantage.

Reed got the first seven points during the Eagles' 9-0 run on a 3-pointer and a pair of layups. From that point on, Hedgesville led by at least 10 points for the rest of the ball game.

"We struggled in the beginning," Reed said. "But we stuck together and hung with it as a team. That helped us to pull through. Mostly, it was just our great defense that we played. My team stole the basketball a few times and they found me open."

Merica said he was pleased that his team recovered from its slow start at the beginning of the game.

"I really think that the key to our victory tonight was when we stepped up our defense and when we went with the press," Merica added. "A little bit of transition that we had off of some steals was good."

Four-year starter Kelly Wills led St. Maria Goretti with 11 points and a trio of 3-pointers. Katie Chambers added nine rebounds and five assists, while Tasha Deneen had six rebounds for the Gaels.

"Their freshman point guard played extremely well for them," St. Maria Goretti coach Todd Rideout said. "She didn't get flustered when they put the pressure on her. She handled the pressure real well. I thought that they ran their transition game very well."

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