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Applemen hold on to beat Eagles

January 30, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

INWOOD, W.Va. -- The No. 5 Musselman girls basketball team sure didn't look like an underdog Tuesday night against No. 2 Hedgesville.

The Eagles, who were coming off a 47-44 victory over No. 1 Jefferson five days before, found themselves in a 19-point hole after the Applemen played a sizzling first 14 minutes Tuesday to race to a 28-9 lead on the way to a 54-39 victory in the Apple Valley League.

"We certainly knew they'd be a formidable opponent, because they created matchup problems for us with their quickness," Hedgesville coach Ben Merica said. "When we fell behind, we had to guard them out on the perimeter and that let them use their quickness even more."

Lacey Williams, who led all scorers with 15 points for Musselman (14-4, 4-1), scored eight of the Applemen's first 10 points as they took a 12-7 lead after the first quarter.

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"She's been going to the basket all year for us," Musselman coach Mike Marsh said about Williams, who came into the game averaging 16.8 points per game. "She's our attack person, and when she finds a weak seam, she's going to go for it, and that sets the tone for us."

Musselman started the second quarter with a 16-2 run to build the 28-9 advantage with 2:08 left in the first half. Morgan Harms had six of her 10 points in the run, and Taylar Moore and Nikki Stephenson each added four points in the spurt, during which the Applemen's ball movement led to several easy baskets.

Hedgesville (13-3, 4-1) clawed back into the game with a 20-7 run over the next six minutes across the second and third quarters to cut the lead to 35-29. In total, Brittany Kolb had 11 points, Katy Leborious had 10 and Erin Breen added nine for the Eagles.

"We got it down to six," Merica said. "The first three minutes of the second half, we had to let it hang out. They turned the ball over and we got some scores off of that."

A 5-0 Musselman spurt made it 40-29 late in the third quarter, and Hedgesville never got closer than nine points after that.

"I think we got a little complacent," Marsh said. "They thought we'd put it away (in the first half), and then we were back on our heels. Then we got back after it, got some steals and pushed the lead back up again."

The Applemen committed 12 turnovers in the fourth quarter -- many of them on needless rushes up the court while holding a double-digit lead. Williams fouled out with 2:55 left, which hurt Musselman's ball-handling against Hedgesville's press.

"We're normally real solid closing out games, but with Lacey out, it really hurt us," Marsh said. "We didn't execute our inbounds plays well, and we need to work on breaking the press. We did not execute our press attack well at all."

However, the Eagles committed nine turnovers themselves in the final period, failing to capitalize on their opportunities.

Jenn Ashton scored 13 points for Musselman -- she entered the game averaging five points per game.

"Jenn had a super offensive night, her best of the season," Marsh said. "We're looking for another scorer. It'd be nice to have four or five who can score and not just two or three."

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