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MDCC, Panhandle teams head for tourneys

February 14, 2008|By Dan Kauffman

The Heritage Academy boys basketball team has enjoyed smooth sailing through the Mason Dixon Christian Conference this season. The Eagles (17-2, 12-0) hope to continue their strong play in next week's conference tournament, in which they'll be the top seed.

Steven Barthalow is averaging 18.2 points per game, shooting 53.6 percent inside the 3-point arc and 44.3 percent from beyond it.

"He is shooting a much higher percentage both inside the arc and outside," Heritage coach Mike Kidd said. "A lot of it is shot selection. He's not forcing shots as much, he's letting opportunities come to him a little more."

Hamilton Stamper, the Eagles' 6-foot-5 center, passed the 1,000-point milestone in a road victory over Calvary on Feb. 5 to join Barthalow, who passed the milestone last season. Stamper is averaging 16.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 4.5 blocks.

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"He's always been a force inside, rebounding, shot-blocking and scoring as well," Kidd said. "To be honest, he's been unselfish to a fault. We've tried to get him to shoot the ball more, and this is the year he became more aggressive and assertive."

While Heritage will be favored to win the tournament -- the top four seeds will host first-round games Tuesday before the semifinals and finals are played next Friday and Saturday -- there are a handful of teams with hopes of springing the upset, including in-town rival Broadfording (16-8, 10-3).

"We're much improved this year," Lions coach Burnie Clutz said. "Things have gone as I had hoped they would. The improvement is not only in the win-loss column, but in maturity and fundamentals. I'm hoping the kids are seeing the fruits of their labor. ... For them to be 16-8 at this point speaks to the hard work."

Forward Armando Miller (15.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 55.8 percent shooting) and guard Devin Gourdine (15.3 points, 47.4 percent shooting from 3-point range) have been Broadfording's top players. Ethan Reynolds (9.5 points, 7.5 rebounds) recently returned after missing 12 games with mononucleosis.

Cumberland Valley Christian (15-7, 9-4) and Shalom Christian (13-7, 8-4) are the other top seeds in the tournament. Shalom and Broadfording played Thursday night.

n The MDCC girls tournament could come down to CVCS (17-5, 12-1) and Heritage (15-6, 10-2), who currently hold the top two seeds.

The Eagles have won two of three games against the Blazers this season, giving coach Ed Dorsey reason for optimism.

"It's really good to have that going in," Dorsey said. "The girls will be confident knowing they beat them twice, but Miranda (Payne) and her team is always a tough opponent."

Payne averaged 20.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.6 steals and 4.1 assists through the first 18 games CVCS played this season. Heritage has its own star in Morgan McIntire (22.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 steals in 15 games). Dorsey said McIntire's ability to get her teammates involved is the biggest different in her game from last season.

"Her ability to spread things around with the team and control the game for us as a team has improved tremendously," Dorsey said. "She's always been a great individual player, but her team play has improved a lot."

Bri Dorsey is the catalyst for the Eagles' defense as an undersized, quick forward. She averages 10.1 rebounds and 6.6 steals.

"Our strategy is our defense starts our offense," Ed Dorsey said. "That's where her role comes in. She gets our defense going and our offense feeds off that."

Panhandle girls playoffs

The West Virginia girls playoffs get underway next week with sectionals, and the Class AAA race for the Region II title should be hotly contested between Jefferson, Hedgesville and Musselman.

The Cougars (16-3) and Eagles (14-5) are favored to meet in the Section 2 final, although Martinsburg (7-12) and its star Iesha Robinson (19.0 points, 11.0 rebounds per game) could make life uncomfortable for one of those teams in the semifinal. The Bulldogs, however, are 0-5 against the other three Class AAA teams in the Panhandle. Jefferson and Hedgesville split two regular-season games.

Jefferson has five players

averaging at least eight points per game -- Dakeea Marshall (12.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.8 steals), Katie Danno (11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds), Dezi Clinton (9.8 points), Aissa Diehl (9.1 points, 4.6 assists, 2.1 steals) and Nicole Hines (8.7 points).

"Certainly you can never predict how the girls will show up and play on any given night, but when everybody on our team shows up to play, we should be in good shape against any team we challenge," Cougars coach Peachie Diehl said. "As far as our depth, most of the teams have trouble matching that."

Since defeating Jefferson 47-44 on Jan. 24, Hedgesville was 1-3 through Wednesday with losses to Jefferson and Musselman -- which the Eagles played again Thursday night.

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