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Cougars pull hidden 'ace' out of sleeve

March 03, 2007|by JOHN O'BRIEN / Staff Correspondent

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - As familiar as Jefferson and Martinsburg had become with each other this season, Cougars coach Bob Starkey managed to keep one secret until Friday night's Class AAA Region II Section 2 championship.

Sure, Vance Hosby had his second straight 20-20 game and Ryland Newman added 22 points, but the difference was a seldom-used 2-3 extended zone Jefferson used in the second half of a 71-59 victory. It slowed the Bulldogs to only three third-quarter points while Jefferson erased a halftime deficit.

Jefferson (18-4) will play 9-12 Hampshire at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Hedgesville for a trip to the state tournament after beating the Bulldogs in the two teams' fourth meeting this season. Martinsburg won the first two, and Jefferson took the last pair.

The Bulldogs (14-7) had no answer for Jefferson's zone Friday, shooting 16 percent in the second half after a 58-percent first half helped them build a 39-30 halftime lead.

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"We were kind of sluggish defensively, not moving well and getting beat down the court," said Starkey, who is attempting to reach his second state tournament in three years at Jefferson. "Martinsburg is a rhythm ballclub. We had to get them out of their rhythm. The zone was our ace in the hole."

It bewildered the Bulldogs, said coach Dave Rogers.

"Their zone did a nice job," he said. "We weren't getting the ball to the right spots at the right times. We did not see a lot of zone this year."

Until Friday, Martinsburg really never saw it from Jefferson this season. Starkey said he really only used it in the third meeting for a short period.

"We just used it sparingly, because our man-to-man was doing well," he said. "We've had it all along. We finally got it going tonight."

Martinsburg apparently solved that man-to-man, though, as it jumped out to a 39-27 lead on Aaron Crim's basket with 1:30 left in the first half. Jefferson sophomore Marquise Jones hit his only basket, a 3-pointer, just before halftime, to make it a nine-point game.

At that point, the Bulldogs had made 15 of 26 shots, including 4 of 9 3-pointers.

And that's when Starkey decided to use that "ace in the hole."

"That zone, we pretty much want it to be our main defense right now," Newman said. "We came out tonight against them and made them shoot from behind the ar and took away their inside game."

Martinsburg ran off chunks of game clock trying to find an opening, while Jefferson outscored the Bulldogs 14-3 in the quarter.

Dewey McDonald nailed a 3-pointer with 9 seconds left that gave Jefferson a 44-42 lead, its first since 15-12 in the first quarter.

Things carried over to the fourth, where Hosby broke a tie with four straight points. The Bulldogs got as close as 49-47 with 4:51 remaining, but Jefferson scored nine straight, including a 3-pointer by Gerald Stottlemyer, to put the game out of reach.

Hosby had 22 points and 24 rebounds, including 11 boards on the offensive boards. Hosby's outing came two nights after a 20-point, 21-rebound performance in a two-point win over Hedgesville.

"Vance is just really coming on like gangbusters," Starkey said. "He was nursing a sprained ankle, but it's better and he's been really good the last week and a half."

Stottlemyer added 10 points for the Cougars.

Alvin Brown had 11 points, while Isaac Thornton scored a team-high 19 points for the Bulldogs. He made his first six shots en route to 14 first-half points but shot only 1 of 8 in the second half.

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