Dragons hold off Bulldogs

February 21, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - When it came to measuring sticks on Friday, the Martinsburg boys basketball team should have come away feeling like rulers.

It was hard to tell by the Bulldogs' long faces, though. They were a foot off and a few inches short in a 57-56 loss to highly regarded Notre Dame Academy. But coach Dave Rogers was convinced it was No. 3 Martinsburg's chance to stand tall again.

"They never gave up. If we play like this the rest of the way, we can play with anyone," Rogers said. "I'm a terrible loser ... I hate to lose. They hate to lose because they are winners. They are angry right now, but if they weren't I'd question their heart. But they laid it on the line tonight. "


Friday was the return to the kind of game that has been Martinsburg's trademark. The Bulldogs controlled the tempo with defense - using a 2-3 zone to make the Dragons uncomfortable - and did enough offensively to stay in the game until the final seconds.

In fact, Martinsburg (16-4) had two chances to win in the final 24 seconds after Notre Dame missed on consecutive one-and-one situations. Brandon Barrett missed a 12-foot jumper off the right baseline with four seconds left to allow the Dragons (14-7) to avoid the loss.

Martinsburg's effort signaled the end of a funk. The Bulldogs had lost three of their last five games.

"I told the kids before this game that this was a 'fun game,'" Rogers said. "We scheduled this game to see just how good we are because Notre Dame is a good program and well-coached. It is a measuring stick to see just where we are."

The Bulldogs scratched and grinded the much taller Dragons to a halt, keeping Notre Dame's guards in check while collapsing the zone around 6-foot-9 center Alan Metcalfe and 6-8 reserve Lucas Sieijn.

Neither team led by more than seven points as Martinsburg came back from a 15-8 deficit to close within 29-27 at the half. Nate Sowers kept the Bulldogs close by hitting three of his four 3-pointers in the first half.

Martinsburg came out in the second half and started with an 11-3 run as Jeff Horst scored six points and Durrell Johnson added four for a 38-32 lead.

"Nate hit some big 3s and Durrell stepped up tonight," Rogers said. "They knew coming in that (Notre Dame) had a couple of Division I players. Barrett did a nice job moving the ball and Mark Richmond and Horst battled inside. It was a total team effort."

Notre Dame used a pair of 3s by Brandon Clayton in the last 25 seconds of the third quarter to reassume a 47-45 lead. Martinsburg never overcame the deficit.

The Dragons took a 57-52 lead with 2:38 remaining, but Johnson hit the last of his 16 points on a layup and Barrett added a steal and a breakaway to make the score 57-56 with 1:44 remaining.

Notre Dame tried to ice the ball and run the clock, forcing Martinsburg to commit five fouls in a minute to put the Dragons in the bonus. Joe Posey and Marcus Supass each missed the first shots of one-and-ones to open the door for the Bulldogs, but Martinsburg failed to sink the winning shot.

Sowers matched Johnson's 16 points to lead Martinsburg. Horst and Barrett each finished with 10. Barrett is three points shy of 1,000 for his career. Metcalfe led Notre Dame with 14 points while Clayton finished with 13.

"If we played some of our other games as hard as we played this one, this would have been our first loss of the year," Rogers said. "This tells them what we have to do the rest of the way. When we lose, I usually have a tough time sleeping. I will be able to sleep tonight after this one."

The Herald-Mail Articles