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Inconsistent Bulldogs get past Goretti

February 26, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers was puzzled after Wednesday's 53-45 victory over St. Maria Goretti.

"I just can't understand how you can't come to play and not give 110 percent all the time," he said after a 15-minute, closed-door session with his Bulldogs.

Martinsburg (17-4) looked like the Los Angeles Lakers for the first five minutes, building a 16-1 lead. Goretti, meanwhile, looked like it was opening its season.

Brandon Barrett started the onslaught with a quick basket and hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 3:39 mark to surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career and give the Bulldogs the 15-point lead. The Gaels (16-15) were missing wild shots and turning over the basketball.

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Even though the Bulldogs went to the lockers with a 28-20 halftime lead after a seven-point second period, there was a lull in their performance that carried into the third period.

Six missed shots, a trio of turnovers and a lack of rebounding left the Bulldogs without an answer as Goretti rallied to take a 29-27 lead with 4:33 to go on a Mike Nelson basket.

"That's what I'm talking about ... we turn it on and take the big lead, then turn it off," Rogers said. "Then, we decide we can turn it on again. That can't continue. That kind of effort will jump out and get you."

Rogers called a timeout and immediately asked his players, "Who is moving out there and who is standing around?" The Gaels came out of the break with baskets from Mason Herman and Trevor Cobb to take a 33-28 lead.

Suddenly, the Bulldogs turned it back on as Durrell Johnson broke the dry spell at 1:05 with a basket and Nate Sowers backed it up with a conventional three-point play to knot the score, 33-33.

Thanks to Johnson, the fourth period belonged to Martinsburg as the Bulldogs raced to a 44-37 lead midway through the final stanza. The 6-foot-4 senior hit a pair of baskets and all eight of his free throws in the closing eight minutes to keep the feisty Gaels at bay.

"Goretti got us totally out of position after we had the lead," Rogers said. "We were making cuts in slow motion and I think after we got the lead everyone started thinking 'me' instead of 'we.'"

Goretti hit 7 of 13 shots and outrebounded Martinsburg 10-3 to get back into the game. But, with the exception of Herman, the Gaels were missing the inside scoring presence of Nelson (eight points) and junior Joey Spierenburg (three points).

"Herman had a good inside game (10 points) but the big guys just didn't make it happen," Goretti coach Cokey Robertson said. "We didn't convert the easy putbacks and we got in the hole early by not reacting defensively.

"The start to the game was maybe the worst of the year," said Robertson, disappointed after a second straight subpar peformance on the heels of a three-game win streak.

Martinsburg won the game at the charity stripe with a 20-for-29 performance, including a 14-for-14 effort by Johnson on the way to his game-high 22 points.

Barrett, who received the game ball during a 30-second timeout, a standing ovation and a kiss from his mom, added 15 for the Bulldogs.

While Martinsburg heads to Beckley, W.Va., on Saturday for a date with Woodrow Wilson, Goretti must get ready for a match with St. Frances Academy on Friday in the Baltimore Catholic League postseason tournament.

"If we're not ready, we'll get our behinds kicked," Robertson said.

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