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Eagles claim section crown

February 28, 2004|by CURT HORNBECKER

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - Ben Merica's acorn was a long time coming.

His Hedgesville girls basketball team finally stopped a long history of playoff losses by claiming the West Virginia Class AAA Region II Section 2 title with a 38-30 victory over Martinsburg - winner of 14 of the last 15 crowns - at Jefferson High School Friday.

"They say even a blind squirrel gets an acorn now and then," said Merica. "This must be a really blind squirrel, because it took a long time to get this acorn."

It was Hedgesville's defense that drove the Bulldogs (12-11) nuts, especially in the decisive second period when the Eagles (18-4) held Martinsburg scoreless and turned a 9-8 edge after the first eight minutes into a 12-point margin at the intermission.

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"It was huge," said Tiffany Linn, Hedgesville's leading scorer in the game with 13 points. "The last half of the season we've been focusing on defense, so to come out and hold them down like that was just awesome."

"You think of all the looks we had (in the second quarter), if even just a few of those had gone in, we'd have only been down four or five," Martinsburg coach Don Bullett said. "As it was, we felt pretty good being down by 12 at the half. We wanted a low scoring game, we just didn't plan on going scoreless in the second quarter."

Despite having starting guard Jamie Robinson saddled with four fouls, the Bulldogs closed the gap to five late in the third period. But seven straight points gave Hedgesville a 35-23 lead with 6:11 left in the game.

A layup from Ashley Roman and a Bridget Merceruio 3-pointer cut the gap to seven, but Martinsburg could get no closer.

Jennifer Hoffman propelled the Eagles to the early lead, scoring eight of her 12 points in the first half. Meanwhile, Martinsburg was unable to get anyone on track offensively and finished with just four players scoring for the game. Stephanie Harold led the way with 12 points.

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