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Storm pulls in reins on 'Dogs

January 12, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER /Staff Correspondent

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Mercersburg Academy phoned one in in its own special way against No. 1 Martinsburg on Wednesday night.

Every time the Blue Storm got into trouble, someone was there to answer the call.

No. 2 Mercersburg trailed five times - but never by more than a basket - before it cut off the Bulldogs 65-61 to remain undefeated.

"Our kids always answer," said Mercersburg coach Mark Cubit. "They're tough and they kept their poise. This is a great crew."

The Blue Storm (12-0) showed they were prepared to withstand any Martinsburg challenge early.

The Bulldogs (6-2) erased a nine-point deficit with a 10-0 run to open the second quarter to take a 19-18 lead.

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But Mercersburg answered with three consecutive baskets and a free throw to regain the lead, 25-19.

"It was kind of a statement to them," said Mercersburg forward Alex Tyler, who had 15 points. "We were saying 'We're not going to back down.'"

Martinsburg took the lead three times in the second half and seemed to steal the momentum with help from the home crowd, but Mercersburg responded to each rally.

The Bulldogs took a 39-38 lead with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter, only to have Mercersburg's Tim Rahauser hit a 3-pointer 11 seconds later. Then, the Bulldogs regained the lead on a pair of free throws by Isaiah Alford for a 42-41 lead, but Tyler answered with a basket and free throw to give the Blue Storm a two-point advantage.

"When we ran our offense we looked good and that's why we were able to get the lead a couple of times," said Bulldogs coach Dave Rogers. "Then we'd get a little selfish and take some shots that we shouldn't have taken. (Mercersburg) came right back every time."

Martinsburg stayed within a possession of the Blue Storm through seven minutes of the fourth quarter and took the lead on Jordan Jackson's dunk to give the Bulldogs a 54-53 lead. Mercersburg answered one last time on a turn-around jump shot by Tyler.

"There was a stretch where we were down one, then steal it and throw it away ... then again down one and throw it away," Rogers said. "Then we got the lead and became impatient. It was like 'Oh boy, we're going to light it up,' then we'd turn it over."

The Blue Storm hit 13 of 17 free throws in the fourth quarter and 10 of 12 over the final three minutes to seal the win. At the other end of the spectrum was Martinsburg, which went 4-for-13 in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs finished with 26 turnovers. In two losses this season Martinsburg has turned the ball over 60 times.

"It looks like we're out of sync. The rhythm's not there," Roger said. "When you're not playing well it just frustrates you."

Andre Hornes led Martinsburg with a relatively quiet 15 points, while Alford addd 12.

Josh Davis had 19 points and Colin Cubit chipped in with 13 for the Blue Storm.

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