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Guard 'Dogs

Martinsburg's backcourt unleashes to curb

Martinsburg's backcourt unleashes to curb

January 05, 2008|By JOHN O'BRIEN

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Coming from behind against Jefferson is nothing new for Martinsburg, but having to protect a lead is.

The No. 3 Bulldogs did well enough Friday to earn their second win in eight days over the Cougars, 63-56 behind Cameron Cato's 18 points and Brandon Cato's eight steals.

In a 61-60 win on Dec. 28, Martinsburg came back from 16 down to take the lead in the final minute. Friday, the Bulldogs (8-1) outscored the No. 4 Cougars 27-7 in the third quarter to take a 12-point lead, which narrowed to one before Martinsburg straightened itself out.

"The season's still young," Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said. "We did this last year. We won the first two against them then lost the last two."

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Michael Cole scored 14 points and Brandon Cato added 11. Nine of Cameron Cato's points came in the decisive third as Jefferson committed eight turnovers and watched the Bulldogs make 12 of 19 shots.

"The Martinsburg comeback came because they could trigger their break by getting steals by mugging our point guard and scoring on the other end," said Jefferson coach Bob Starkey, whose team has lost three in a row after winning its first five.

"In our halfcourt defense, they didn't score very often. That turned the game around. Our guard's bringing the ball up the floor and they're laying on him."

Asked if the game was played at a pace too fast for the human eye, Starkey responded, "For those older eyes in the officials, maybe."

Starkey said Jefferson center Vance Hosby handled aggressively under the basket. Hosby had 15 points, 11 after halftime.

"You can't tell me we played more physical than they did," Starkey said. "We committed some fouls, yeah, but so did they."

Martinsburg made 10 of its 16 free throws. Jefferson made 4 of 7. The Bulldogs didn't shoot any free throws in the third quarter, though.

Martinsburg trailed 29-21 to start the period and cut the deficit to 34-29 before going on an 18-2 run.

Tevin Walker hit a jumper to start the spurt before Isaac Thornton scored off a Brandon Cato steal to make it 34-33 with 3:45 left.

Thirty seconds later, Cameron Cato hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 36-36 before the 6-foot-8 Cole pushed the Bulldogs ahead with the first of his two 3-pointers. He even fed Walker for a layup with 22 seconds left that made it 48-36.

Jefferson closed to 52-51 in the fourth quarter, thanks to the combined efforts of Hosby, Tyler Hester and Dewey McDonald. Hester scored on a drive with 3:05 remaining to make it 52-51, while McDonald added eight of his team-high 17 points in the final period.

Martinsburg pulled away thanks to a layup by Walker and two free throws from Brandon Cato, who was fouled after chasing down a loose ball from a Hester miss. McDonald hit a jumper to close within 56-53, but the Cougars never got closer.

"We need to keep getting better," Starkey said. "We were a little bit better, I think, than we were the other night (against Martinsburg), even though the score was closer the other night."

Jefferson committed 22 turnovers compared to 11 by the Bulldogs. Rogers called the game "very, very rough."

Starkey was a little more exact.

"Our ball-handling wasn't bad considering we were getting hammered all the way up the court," Starkey said. "I dare say not too many people can handle the ball well in that situation."

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