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Saints no match for Eagles

December 12, 2004|By BILL STERNER

ST JAMES - Ben Merica's message was clear to the Hedgesville girls basketball team before the Eagles took the floor in their Apple Valley League opener against St. James on Saturday afternoon.

"Don't race up and down the floor trying to see how many points you can score," Merica cautioned. "Take care of the basketball and run the offense."

Easier said than done.

Hedgesville did indeed run the offense and plenty of it as the Eagles didn't race but did rev their engines for four quarters in outdistancing an overmatched St. James team, 53-12.

Hedgesville's starters saw the bench early as Merica got plenty of playing time for his second group as the Eagles rolled to a 23-0 lead in the first quarter before the Saints' Fabienne Kyle connected on a jumper in the lane at the buzzer.

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"This is a step up in class and in talent," St James coach Amy Poffenberger said. "(Hedgesville) kids play all year and it is apparent.

"That's where we want to be one day. I tell our girls all the time that basketball players are made in off-season play."

The Eagles (1-0) played solidly as Merica switched positions and looked at players in several different situations. Using two different point guards and various backcourt combinations, Hedgesville had some temporary lapses into ragged play, especially on defense.

But the Saints (2-5, 0-2) managed just two points in the second quarter as the Eagles eased into halftime with a 29-4 lead. Overall, the Saints had three spans of six minutes or more without a score.

"We need confidence in our shooting," Poffenberger said. "But all this takes time."

"We got a good look at the second group today," Merica said. "This was a great opportunity for our kids to get into the game and see how the system works."

Everyone on Hedgesville's bench saw action with 11 Eagles getting into the scorebook.

"Honestly, St. James played us pretty evenly with that second group," Merica said. "Sometimes our kids had difficulty getting in the flow of the game."

"We hustled and played hard," Poffenberger said. "We will slowly come around and get better.

"These girls need to make a committment to basketball. It will take some time but we will get there."

Miranda Reed led the Eagles with 10 points. Hannah Dacin led St. James with four.

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