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Ball bounces way of Mussleman girls

January 31, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER /Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - If at first you don't succeed then try, try again. Then try one more time.

The Musselman girls basketball team put that philosophy to good use Monday night as it dominated the boards - particularly on the offensive glass - to roll to 68-29 Apple Valley League win.

Musselman took control of the game in second quarter by outscoring the Panthers 19-7 to take a 32-15 haltime lead. The Applemen set the tone 22 seconds into the period with a five-shot possession that ended with a Nikki Stephenson offensive rebound and lay-in. Stephenson, just a freshman, repeated the play 90 seconds later when she put back the fourth offensive rebound of the possession for another bucket.

"That's one of the things we talked about at halftime," Applemen coach Mike Marsh said. "We weren't necessarily making the first shot, but we got a lot of second and third opportunities."

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The only Panther who posed a consistent threat was Jennifer Willison, who scored 15 of Hancock's 29 points - the second lowest point total this season for the Panthers (4-10, 1-4).

"That's one of the things we need to work on. We need to get (Jennifer) help on the inside,"said Hancock coach Rocky Wills. "I can see that the girls are trying out there and we're getting things here and there, but we need more."

Musselman (7-8, 4-2) surrendered 11 points to Willison in the first half, but Marsh was content with letting the 5-foot-11 senior score, as long as the Applemen contained the rest of the Panthers.

"Willison is a heck of an athlete and she can really hurt you if you let her," Marsh said. "We were able to control the rest of the team so it wasn't as bad. They weren't hitting a lot of their shots, but if they would have it would have made it a much tougher game."

Hancock's misfires from the field compounded its continued turnover troubles. The Panthers had 25 turnovers Monday, but more unsettling were the 17 that were unforced.

"It's like we're seeing things that might be there and their not," Wills said. "We need to gain some more self discipline for moving the ball. We might not shoot well all the time, but I'll take that 50 percent chance of making it or missing over the turnovers."

The turnovers paired with poor shooting opened up the running game for Musselman. The Appleman made 15 baskets in transition, including three straight cross-court passes from Courtni Williams to Lacey Williams for easy buckets to close the third quarter with a 50-23 lead.

"That's kind of our game. We've developed into a transition-type team with the way we move the ball," Marsh said, "but even when we ran our set offense we found some openings. I was very pleased with our effort."

Stephenson led Musselman with 14 points, while Lacey Williams added 13 and Rachel Boyd added 10. The Applemen face their fourth game in five days today when they host top-ranked Hedgesville.

"We're ready for them and we're excited about the opportunity," Marsh said. "We're going to need our 'A' game to beat them, but we think we have a shot."

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