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Calling off the Dogs

Hedgesville masters Martinsburg

Hedgesville masters Martinsburg

March 06, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Duncan Williams looked like a man on a mission - and according to Hedgesville boys basketball coach Kelly Church, he was.

In Duncan's locker is a quote from (Martinsburg senior) Brandon Barrett," Church said. "Duncan saw him after the state final last year, and Brandon told Duncan that Martinsburg would never lose to Hedgesville while Brandon was there.

"Anything I could say tonight for motivational purposes was going to pale in comparison to the motivation he got from Brandon."

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Armed with that quote and five years worth of falling short against his good friend, Williams and the Eagles got the best of Barrett and the Bulldogs Friday night, as Hedgesville ended Martinsburg's four-year run as West Virginia Class AAA Region II Section 2 champions with a dominating 62-47 victory.

It's the most important game of my life, and we did it," a jubilant Williams said moments after the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard. "This is for all the people who didn't believe we could do it, because we did it.

"I've played against Brandon for five years (going back to junior league play) and I think I beat him twice, but this is the most important one for me."

Hedgesville (19-3) - which had lost two prior meetings against Martinsburg (17-5), the last by a single point - used a 13-2 run to end the first half up, 34-25, then pulled away in the second half for the Eagles' first sectional crown - and the Bulldogs' first sectional loss - since 1999.

Williams outplayed Barrett from the start, finishing with 16 points - 12 in the first half to set the tone - while Barrett struggled to a five-point outing before leaving the court for the final time in his prep career with about 90 seconds left.

It wasn't just Williams' scoring that was important. As the primary ballhandler, Williams had to fend off Martinsburg's tough pressure defense, and he did it with tremendous poise. Hedgesville turned the ball over only seven times, and the Bulldogs - who prefer to get out in transition - had only four fast break points in the game.

"The big thing to me is he handles the ball 75 percent of the time, and to do that against their athletes for 32 minutes and not come out (of the game) at all says a lot for that young man's fortitude," Church said.

Hedgesville shot 65 percent (13-for-20) in the first half, with Tony Powell scoring all nine of his points on three 3-pointers.

Matt Deaner got hot in the second half, making three 3-pointers and scoring 17 of his game-high 23 points in the final 16 minutes.

"When we started getting ahead, I felt I would hit everything," Deaner said. "Our team is very unselfish, we all pass the ball and whoever the open man is gets the shot."

Deaner scored 11 points in the final quarter as Hedgesville went up 49-34 with 7 minutes left and held at least an 11-point edge the rest of the way. The Eagles finished 21-for-40 (53 percent) from the floor.

Durrell Johnson scored 19 points in his final game in a Martinsburg jersey, while Nate Sowers added 11. It wasn't enough for the Bulldogs, who never managed to create many easy shots and finished 19-for-45 (42 percent) from the floor.

"They wanted to shut our inside game off and they did that, and we didn't shoot well from the outside," said Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers.

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