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Eagles soar to AVL title

February 02, 2007|by JACK HILL III / Staff Correspondent

The Hedgesville girls basketball team shook off a slow start late in the first quarter, using an 11-0 run to spark the No. 2 Eagles' 53-31 victory over St. Maria Goretti and clinch the Apple Valley League title Thursday at the Gael Center.

Goretti (13-6, 1-5) led 9-8 with 1 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter when Hedgesville (13-4, 6-0) made its move. Ciera Nicholson scored a bucket and Ashton Butler made a layup to put the Eagles in front 12-9 at the end of the period.

Butler canned a 3-pointer and Nicholson scored the next four points to increase Hedgesville's advantage to 19-9 with 5:27 to go in the second quarter. The Gaels cut the lead to eight points twice, but got no closer the rest of the game. The Eagles extended their lead to 29-15 by halftime.

"I thought that our girls did a little bit better job defensively by putting on the pressure at the key times when they had to," Hedgesville coach Ben Merica said. "We changed some things up on defense. We threw a couple of things in there to keep them from being comfortable offensively."

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Butler, the area's third-leading scorer at 16.9 points per game, scored just under her season average with a game-high 16 points and had seven rebounds and four steals for the Eagles, who won their seventh straight game.

Nicholson added 15 points and nine rebounds, while freshman Tessa Deneen had 10 points for Hedgesville while filling in for Lauren Ashton.

"I thought that we did a good job of hitting some key shots when we needed to have that window of separation," Merica said. "With our key mainstay of handling the basketball, Lauren Ashton, out of the game, I thought that Tessa Deneen did a good job in a tough situation."

Carissa Grove tallied 12 points, Sarah Spierenburg tacked on 11 points and Kathleen Costello pulled down 10 rebounds for the Gaels, who lost for the third time in five games.

"We just ran into a real good defensive team," St. Maria Goretti coach Todd Rideout said. "They were strong on the inside and the outside. They got some easy buckets off of transition. They are a very quick and a very athletic team. They really don't show that much weakness.

"The main thing is that they are a very disciplined team. They limited us to one shot and they capitalized off of our turnovers. Overall, they are one of the strongest teams in the area. They are a very well-balanced ballclub."

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