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Bulldogs bite into Applemen

March 12, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Basically, Martinsburg was basically too good at the basic.

The Bulldogs did the easy things right to turn simplicity into an art form.

Nearly everything Martinsburg touched turned into points on Tuesday turned in a near flawless performance of fundamentals to execute Musselman 88-53 to win the West Virginia Class AAA Region II championship at Shepherd College's Butcher Center.

"Yesterday we went back to basics in practice and worked on the fundamentals," said Martinsburg forward Durrell Johnson, who finished with a game-high 24 points. "We worked on catching the ball and squaring up to the basket. Once you start doing (the fundamentals), they all start going down."

The last ones to go down were the Applemen (9-14) as the Bulldogs earned the invitation to go back to the state tournament in Charleston, W.Va., next week.

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Martinsburg (17-4) used pressure defense to cause turnovers, and in turn, turned up the pace of the game with the quick and precise ways they cashed in their transitions, making it impossible for upstart Musselman to make any threats.

"They try to go fast and we probably ended up playing faster than we wanted to in the first quarter," Musselman coach Derek Basile. "There wasn't much we could do. We told (the players) that we wanted to make them prove they could hit from the outside ... and they did.

It was execution by execution:

n Martinsburg scored 11 three-point plays or 3s, including five in the first quarter when it built a 28-12 lead.

n The Bulldogs scored 17 points in transition in the first half to build a 49-26 halftime lead.

n Martinsburg's defense allowed Musselman to score on consecutive possessions on only two occasions during the game.

n And maybe more importantly, the Bulldogs failed to allow the Applemen's defense to bother them as they used pinpoint passing to continuously find the open shots, be it inside or outside.

"This team is very unselfish," Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said. "They take what we tell them and they use it. We had three keys today - to be aggressive, pound the glass and push the ball up the floor - and we did all three."

The Bulldogs took turns being the go-to player, making Musselman's task even more difficult. It started with Nate Sowers opening the game with a 3 for the first of his 11 points in the first quarter.

The Applemen were within 8-5 at the 4:56 mark after Ryan Woolum hit on a drive along the baseline. Then, over the next 110 seconds, the Bulldogs unleashed an 11-0 run to put Musselman on its heels.

Martinsburg slowly extended the lead, never letting it fall under double-digits.

Sowers finished with 19 points and Jeff Horst added 13 for Martinsburg while Woolum led Musselman with 21 points and Sean Corbett had 11.

"We have a lot of kids who can take it to the hole," Rogers said. "But they don't care who does it. It doesn't matter who gets the points, as long as we get them. The big word for this team is chemistry."

Martinsburg 83 Musselman 55

MARTINSBURG (83)

Benevides 2, B. Barrett 7, Sowers 19, Smith 1, Clise 1, Horst 13, Johnson 24, Richmond 8, Bennett 8. Totals 31 14-22 83.

MUSSELMAN (55)

Woolum 21, Rhodes 2, Corbett 11, C. Barrett 2, Rideout 10, Price 8, Ruffner 1. Totals 22 7-15 55.

Martinsburg 28211915-83

Musselman 12141811-55

Three-point goals - Martinsburg 7 (Johnson 4, Sowers 3), Musselman 4 (Woolum, Price). Technical foul - Johnson.

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