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Bulldogs slide into hoops mode

December 17, 2003|by CURT HORNBECKER

It might be a little difficult for Dave Rogers to put things into perspective.

The Martinsburg boys basketball coach started three players who were wearing football helmets and pads 10 days ago, so until he has an opportunity to make a fair assessment of his club's performance, Rogers will gladly settle for a 64-61 victory over St. Maria Goretti in the season opener.

Thirteen points from Jeff Horst in the fourth quarter kept the scrappy Gaels at bay after Martinsburg rallied from a 13-point first-quarter deficit.

The Bulldogs went on a 14-4 run to take a 56-46 lead with 4:51 left after Goretti's leading scorer, Mike Nelson, fouled out.

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But just when it seemed Martinsburg was in control of the game, the Gaels stormed back by hitting 9 of 10 free throws to close the gap to 64-61 with 16 seconds remaining. Andrew Henderson then missed a pair of free throws for the Bulldogs, but Goretti was unable to convert at the other end.

"At the end of the game, you cannot stop the clock and put them on the line when you have a 10-point lead," Rogers said. "You just can't make those kinds of mistakes."

Turnovers continued to plague the Gaels - especially in the second period - as Martinsburg's defensive pressure resulted in 16 points in transition.

"Their defensive pressure started taking its toll," said Goretti coach Cokey Robertson. "You can't beat a good team when you turn the ball over 20 times. Our goal is 12. We're still struggling with the ball."

Goretti bolted to a 23-10 edge after the first eight minutes behind six points each from Nelson and Tim Alexander. But Durrell Johnson - the Bulldogs' sixth man - warmed up in the second period, scoring 12 of his 16 points to close the gap to 30-27 at the half.

"It's very simple," said Robertson of the Gaels' downfall in the second period, "we missed (the front end of) three one-and-ones, and two layups. That changed everything. What was a three-point lead could have been an eight-point lead if we had made just a few of those shots."

Martinsburg finally took the lead in the third quarter, with Brandon Barrett's eight points leading the way, as foul trouble created problems for Goretti.

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