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Jefferson throttles No. 1 'Dogs

January 07, 2006|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -

Martinsburg threw a big party on Friday, but the No. 4 Jefferson boys basketball team turned the No. 1 Bulldogs into a bunch of sticks-in-the-mud.

"We were treading water uphill all night," Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said. "This was the biggest crowd ever to see a game at Martinsburg High School. ... It was a tremendously humbling experience."

The only balls dropping at this party in the new year were the ones that Jefferson took out of Martinsburg's back pocket as the Cougars rang in 2006 of the Eastern Panhandle rivalry with a devastating 75-55 victory before an overflow crowd in the newly expanded Martinsburg gym complex.

The Cougars (6-1) took care of business with 11-2 runs in the first three minutes of each half to throttle the Bulldogs. Jefferson controlled every intangible phase of the game, especially in the second half when it turned a 33-32 halftime lead to a 44-34 stranglehold by the five-minute mark of the third quarter.

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"The beginning of the second half is probably the most important part of the game," Jefferson coach Bob Starkey said. "Usually the beginning of the first half, the start of the second half and the end of the game are the parts you want to control. Our defense was really good ... We are a pretty quick team."

Jefferson took care of the first two phases of Starkey's checklist and got the third by default with a defensive effort which totally befuddled the Bulldogs.

"Thirty-four turnovers," Rogers said, shaking his head. "We came in at the half, only down one after missing five or six layups and turning the ball over. I said 'As bad as we played and to only be down one, we're in great shape.' I thought we made the adjustments for the second half, but they didn't work."

And it all started with the point of attack. Jefferson point guard Ryland Newman and runningmate Josh Brown used some quick-handed thievery to keep Martinsburg away from the scoring zone with steals that ignited the Jefferson offense.

The Bulldogs (5-1) turned the ball over four times in the first 2:12 to help Jefferson get off the mark for the initial 11-2 lead. Newman and Brown stripped the ball from behind on the Martinsburg guards to set the early tone.

"Our best defense is the halfcourt man," Starkey said. "We've been shutting teams down most of the time with it. We shouldn't have been letting them get by, but the other guys jumped in and we got help."

Q'Monte Metheny helped Martinsburg battle back into the game with 12 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. The Bulldogs slowed the Cougars with a 3-2 zone and pulled back to within 33-32 at the half despite all the problems.

"They were getting two and three chances at the basket and we didn't rotate on defense. That's what did us in," Rogers said. "Their drives to the basket, getting to most of the loose balls and all the points off turnovers ... that's their game."

It all put Jefferson in the fast lane.

"Transition is our forte," Starkey said.

Jefferson's speed landed the knockout blow early in the second half by pulling out to a 12-point advantage to open the third quarter. Martinsburg's fortunes further turned when Andre Hornes went to the bench with four fouls for the last 2:33 of the third quarter before fouling out with 5:40 remaining.

Jefferson's biggest lead was 21 the rest of the way. Tyler Hester worked the baseline to lead the Cougars with 17 points while Brown added 16 and Newman and Vance Hosby added 10 each.

"They win Round One with at least one more round to come," Rogers said.

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