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No. 1 Eagles make every play count

February 10, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER /Staff Correspondent

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - According to Hedgesville senior Miranda Reed, the No. 1 Eagles play every game like a championship game.

If the Eagles continue to play the way they did Thursday night against rival Jefferson, they should be plenty prepared for the possibility of the real thing at season's end.

The Cougars never posed a serious threat as Hedgesville jumped out to 20-point first-half lead and rolled to a 64-36 Apple Valley League victory.

"I don't think we're a team that gets too cocky. We play every team serious," said Reed, who scored 13 points. "We come out like we're playing in a championship game."

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The Cougars (7-11, 3-3) appeared to be far from a team ready for a big game. Jefferson couldn't even manage to match the perfomance from its first meeting with Hedgesville (16-2, 8-0), when it held a halftime lead and lost by just eight points on Jan. 26.

"We weren't playing aggressive defense, we didn't recover in transition and we didn't move without the ball," said Jefferson coach Peachie Diehl. "This is a completely different team from the first time we played them."

It was also a different Hedgesville team. Eagles coach Ben Merica said his team that showed up two weeks ago was flatfooted and not ready to play. The team that played on Thursday was the opposite, making cuts to the basket and forcing turnovers on the defensive end.

Hedgesville forced 13 first-half turnovers, opening the transition game that Jefferson had no answer for. Reed directed the running show using every thing from full-court and behind-the-back passes to perfect execution off the pick and roll. Reed finished with seven assists with fellow seniors Jennie Finafrock and Sam Guell often on the receiving ends. Finafrock finished with a game-high 15 points, while Guell added 12.

Still, Merica tries not to put stock in the success the Eagles had in fast-break opportunities.

"There are teams that you can outrun, but you can't do that as you get into the playoffs and start playing better teams," he said.

Hedgesville seems certain to find out just how good and quick those teams are, as it makes the last few tuneups before the sectional playoffs begin in less that two weeks.

Meanwhile, Jefferson must go back and search for the team that did play agressive defense, did recover in transition and did move without the ball - the Cougars that Diehl knows.

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