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'Dogs come in back door for victory

February 09, 2005|BY BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - On most nights, when Nick Benavides scores two, it's a good night.

On Tuesday, Martinsburg's senior guard scored two and it was a great night.

Usually, two points is a pair of goals for the Herald-Mail's boys soccer player of the year. On Tuesday, it was one of the biggest baskets he will ever score.

Benavides improvised on a backdoor baseline cut and turned a difficult Scotti Smith pass into a reverse layup for his only basket and the winning points with 2.4 seconds remaining to lift the Bulldogs to a hotly contested 55-53 win over Hedgesville in the latest edition of the Battle for Berkeley County.

The rock 'em-sock 'em battle featured 11 lead changes and six ties with neither team leading by more than five points after the first quarter.

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"It was pure adrenaline," Benavides said. "I just went backdoor and I didn't know what I did until it was done."

Martinsburg evened the score with its cross-county rival and put the Class AAA Region II, Section 2 seedings in near chaos with the victory. If Hedgesville defeats Jefferson on Friday, the top seed will be decided by a coin flip.

Martinsburg (9-8) called time out with the score tied at 53-53 and 21.4 seconds remaining to set up for the final shot. The Bulldogs were looking to get into the high post to Andre Hornes, who carried Martinsburg with a game-high 26-point performance.

The Bulldogs worked the ball over the top and passed to Benavides near the left corner. With Hornes covered, he kicked the ball back to Smith along the sideline, above the 3-point circle with 7 seconds remaining.

Smith looked to get the ball to Hornes, who was covered, but caught a glance from Benavides, whose man left him to pressure the ball. Benavides made his cut into the open space, dribbled under Mark Manspile beneath the rim and scored the hoop while being fouled.

"We really wanted to get the ball to Andre," Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said. "We thought he had a mismatch and he's so athletic. But Nick used great mentality and did something he normally doesn't do by going to the backdoor."

Still, the game wasn't over.

Hedgesville called time - after the officials reset the clock from .4 to 2.4 seconds - before Benavides went to the foul line to set up a play. Benavides purposely missed his foul shot with Hedgesville calling time with 1.7 seconds to set up a fullcourt play.

After a Martinsburg timeout, Hedgesville unloaded a high long pass along the left sideline for Manspile. Hornes, who was back playing center field defensively, broke to the ball and jumped for the steal as he collided with Manspile in midair. The ball went out of bounds off Hornes on a no-call by the officials with 1.4 remaining, causing Hedgesville to call time to set up another play.

"We executed our play properly," Hedgesville coach Kelly Church said. "I don't feel any official in this game made any calls intentionally against any team. I felt Manspile was fouled. That's not being critical of the officials, but you are asking me about that one play. I'm sure there were a number of times Coach Rogers felt his guys were fouled as well."

On the ensuing inbounds pass, Martinsburg prevented Hedgesville from getting the ball into the lane. The ball went to Manspile, who fired a 21-footer from the left of the key off the mark at the buzzer.

Martinsburg overcame Hedgesville's defense and a short bench as it lost Nate Sowers early in the second quarter when he re-sprained an ankle he injured last weekend in Huntington, W.Va. He played four minutes in the game and turned around what had been a listless Bulldogs' start by running the point and getting Hornes involved in the offense.

The Bulldogs came back from a 12-5 deficit to close within 17-16 after the first period, setting up the tight drama of the rest of the game. Martinsburg led 30-27 at the half and trailed 44-43 after three quarters on a four-point play at the buzzer by Hedgesville's Sean Ashton.

Martinsburg's defense slowed down Hedgesville's motion game and forced a number of the Eagles' long shots to come up short. Matt Deaner scored a quiet 20 points for the Eagles while Ashton finished with 15.

Hornes took over the game for the Bulldogs, becoming unstoppable at times, hitting 12 baskets, including two 3-pointers. Q'Monte Metheny added 10, but none of them mattered like Benavides' final and only two.

Martinsburg's win became Hedgesville's first loss in its new gym complex.

"It had to be Martinsburg," Benavides said.

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