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Eagles learning to soar

January 10, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - The Hedgesville kiddie corps grew up a bit more on Monday night.

With a starting lineup of two juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen, the Eagles are candidates to suffer at times throughout the boys basketball season.

However, there are times when everyone gains from the experience. Thus, the Eagles should benefit from a game that was air-tight close all the way to the 1:50 mark of the fourth period when they blew the game open with the final 13 points for a 52-36 win over James Wood.

"Our starting lineup is younger than our JV team," said Hedgesville coach Kelly Church. "At the beginning of the year, I asked the kids how many wins they thought they could get, and they basically said four."

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Junior Michael Lopez may feel like the grizzled veteran already. At 6-foot-2, Lopez can gun from the outside and isn't afraid to go to the paint. He led the Eagles with 22 points Monday, including eight of the final 13 down the stretch.

"I've just tried to help the younger guys by showing them what to do," said Lopez, who hit six clutch free throws and a pair of 3-pointers.

Freshman J.R. Mayles scored a career-high 20 points as he worked his 6-3 frame inside in a tandem with sophomore Denver Effland (6-4) to offset the physical advantage of James Wood's Zach Kandrack (6-6) and Kyle Russell (6-5).

Mayles was 9 of 12 inside the paint and scored five points in Hedgesville's final run, including a conventional three-point play when he took a nifty pass from Lopez for the bucket and foul that gave Hedgesville a 42-36 lead.

"I think one of the keys to the win was Reed and Grunseth, with Lopez, working on the perimeter," said Church. "They're all young kids and they are learning what to do."

Effland scored only two points, freshman starting guard Jordan Reed was scoreless and junior Luke Grunseth added eight points. Even the "old man," senior Blake Edwards, provided valuable assistance when needed to spell Mayles and Effland.

What Church called "a stagnant first half" with his Eagles ahead 21-19 at halftime was certainly up his alley as the Colonels (5-5) came out in a very active 2-3 zone.

"We worked, sometimes maybe with 15 passes on a possession, and that's Hedgesville basketball if there's a coach that wants to play us that way," said Church. "The game was at a snail's pace and that's fine with us. (James Wood) went man in the second half and we handled it. We have shooters and with no shot clock, we'll handle it."

The largest lead either team enjoyed from tipoff to midway into the third period was four points when Hedgesville managed a 25-21 margin on back-to-back buckets by Mayles. The Eagles never relinquished that lead.

After a 34-27 lead heading into the final eight minutes, James Wood twice got the deficit back to three points.

The Eagles hit 17 of 26 2-point shots and went 3 of 16 beyond the arc, while James Wood managed to get off 37 shots, hitting 12.

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