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Applemen crack code, paint win over 'Dogs

January 24, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Musselman must have brought along a paintbrush to its game Monday night against Martinsburg, hoping to play like a team made up of Da Vincis.

The Applemen tallied 25 of their 28 field goals in the paint to architect a 67-52 Apple Valley League girls basketball victory over No. 7 Martinsburg, their fourth straight win and one that extracted a measure of revenge from a 50-45 loss to the Bulldogs on Jan. 5.

"We wanted to focus on our post play because they have good size and are athletic," said Musselman coach Mike Marsh, referring to Applemen Nikki Stephenson, Cameron Davis and Rachel Boyd.

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Musselman faced a Martinsburg man-to-man defense in the first quarter and, with its offense in constant movement with ball rotation, it found easy cutters in the paint. The Applemen used an 8-0 run to open up a quick 10-point lead on the way to an 18-10 advantage after the first period, with all of their points coming in the paint.

"We had to change to a 1-2-2 zone defense so we didn't have to chase (Musselman's) cutters," said Martinsburg coach Beth Sedlar, who was trying to refocus her troops after a tough overtime loss to Hampshire on Saturday.

Musselman (6-6, 5-2) continued to score inside in the second period, but the Bulldogs (5-6, 4-3), behind Iesha Robinson's rebounding, stepped up their effort offensively.

Only a 5-foot-7 freshman, Robinson pulled down one of her 10 first-half rebounds and converted it into a three-point play as the Bulldogs sliced the deficit to 32-26, before Lacey Williams sent the Applemen to the lockers with two free throws and an eight-point lead.

"We made some adjustments at halftime by moving Courtni (Williams) on Robinson," said Marsh.

While the Applemen negated Robinson some in the second half, the Bulldogs still made a chase in the third period as LaToya Buckner and Rachel Hull each hit two field goals to slice the Musselman lead to 40-36 with 4:11 remaining.

As the quarter winded to a conclusion, Musselman got critical back-to-back baskets by Lacey Williams and Davis that gave it a 49-40 lead.

As Dominque Ollie was doing her best with five points in the early stages of the fourth for Martinsburg to stay close, Stephenson went on the rampage with 10 points, including four free throws as she converted on a double-technical on Martinsburg with 3:13 left. That was part of an 11-0 run that put the Applemen in a comfortable position.

Stephenson led Musselman with 20 points and Lacey Williams added 19 as the Applemen shot 28 of 62 from the floor for 45 percent.

A 5-8 freshman, Stephenson hit 8 of 17 from the floor, including two of the three field goals that weren't in the paint.

"At the beginning of the season I wanted to score from the outside, but Coach talked about going inside and being able to score both ways," said Stephenson, who also grabbed 15 rebounds, including nine in the second half as Musselman closed a wide deficit on the boards to 43-38.

"We think we can get out and run and we're beginning to run the floor real well," said Marsh. "When we get going, we've got five good players out there at any time."

If Musselman is improving as the year progresses, the Applemen will have a chance for two more revenge victories this weekend at Hampshire and Clarke County (Va.).

Buckner led Martinsburg with 19 points and pulled down 12 rebounds while Robinson had eight points to go along with 14 rebounds. Overall, Martinsburg shot 16 of 52 from the floor for 31 percent.

"As well as we played Saturday, tonight was a letdown," said Sedlar. "The kids played tough, stayed in the game and right now things are kind of mental. We still have costly breakdowns."

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