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Lady Bulldogs roll into states

March 12, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Forty-eight days ago, after a loss to Hampshire dropped the Martinsburg's girls basketball team to 4-8, the dream of a state tournament appearance seemed unlikely at best for the Bulldogs.

On Thursday, that dream will become a reality.

Martinsburg (13-9) will ride an eight-game winning streak - complete with surprising sectional and regional championships - into Charleston, W.Va. to face Spring Valley at 11:45 Thursday morning in a first round playoff game.

"I think more than anything we got sick of losing," Bulldogs coach Don Bullett said. "We had lost to Hampshire, a team we thought we could beat and turn it around against, and that was our low point."

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A 13-point loss against University - another state tournament team - at home on Feb. 1 was the last blemish on Martinsburg's record. Since then, the Bulldogs have been on a tear, including last week's victory over favored Hedgesville for the sectional title.

The Eagles had beaten Martinsburg by nine at home during the regular season and had the Eastern Panhandle's best regular-season record (17-4), but fell short against the Bulldogs when it mattered most.

"I think the girls were really up for the game," Bullett said. "When we went up there, we should have won the game and we missed like 20 foul shots. ... We felt like we were our own worst enemy, and we felt like we could play with them."

Though Martinsburg is young - leading scorer Te Johnson-Peters (10.7 points per game) is the team's only senior - the Bulldogs go deep into their bench.

Nine different players have led Martinsburg in scoring in a game this season.

Their second-leading scorer - Erin DiMagno at 7.5 points per game - comes off the bench as an offensive spark plug.

"We kind of jelled," Bullett said.

"We all came together, the chemistry started to work and we found a good rotation. Early in the season we played a lot of rotations, because we had to find out what we had. The chemistry with the first eight or so kids came together and we're playing our best ball now.

"We got on a roll at the right time. It's not what you do in November, but what you do in March."

Spring Valley (12-12) poses the next test for Martinsburg, and Bullett said the Bulldogs aren't intimidated by the state tournament setting.

"Morgantown is undefeated, University lost to them by two (points), and we lost to University by six," Bullett said. "University is a pretty good team, and we played with them. We feel have a chance to do real well."

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