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Bulldogs' Thornton cramps No. 1 Eagles' style

February 16, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Martinsburg's Isaac Thornton gave Hedgesville cramps all night.

Before he actually had a calf cramp, Thornton scored 22 points. After a quick massage, he netted four more on huge free throws in the final 16 seconds that secured No. 5 Martinsburg's 54-50 victory over No. 1 Hedgesville on Friday night in front of a standing-room-only crowd.

Thornton hit 9 of 12 shots from the field and was perfect on eight free-throw attempts as the Bulldogs (17-4) benefited from a strong fourth-quarter start to hand the Eagles their second loss in 20 outings.

"I had a cramp in the left leg and was OK with the trainer's massage and the timeouts we had," said Thornton, whose free throws kept

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Hedgesville from completing a rally from 10 points down with just under three minutes remaining.

"It was one of my better shooting games this year," said Thornton. "I had confidence and my teammates were getting me the ball."

With Martinsburg down 37-36 entering the final frame, Thornton stole a pass and went the distance of the floor for a slam dunk that seemingly gave the Bulldogs some bark.

"(Isaac) had determination from beginning to end tonight," said Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers. "He carried us through tonight."

Inshan Mohammed followed with two buckets, both on assists from Devin Walker, Brandon Cato had a conventional three-point play and Thornton punctuated an 11-2 run with a putback score.

Duane Fleetwood began an Eagles surge with back-to-back 3-pointers, Nathan Beard added a free throw and Hedgesville was back within 50-47 with 43.5 seconds remaining.

Jordan Reed and Denver Effland had good looks on 3-point efforts but they went for naught, leaving Hedgesville in a need-to-foul situation. And

Martinsburg made sure the ball was in Thornton's hands.

Thornton hit both ends of a 1-and-1 and Reed then hit a trey from the left wing to get the Eagles within 52-50 with 9.5 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Thornton marched back to the line in the same situation and converted, with Hedgesville following up with a turnover as the clock expired.

"I thought we hustled for loose balls and rebounded well," said Rogers. "And (Inshan) came off the bench and really helped tonight."

Martinsburg's success in the late going was Hedgesville's recipe early as the Eagles opened the game with their version of hustle.

Fleetwood stripped Cameron Cato and went the distance for a bucket and Maurice Newby blocked a shot by Brett Rogers, got his own rebound and went the distance for a score as the Eagles forged a 16-11 lead after the first period.

Fleetwood finished with 15 points to lead Hedgesville, but the Eagles' big men were held in check as Effland scored 13 and J.R. Mayles managed only four points.

"(Martinsburg) is a talented team and you can't have empty possessions in a game that lead to transition baskets," said Hedgesville coach Kelly Church. "Martinsburg played good defense and was aggressive. When they show up to play, they are tough."

Walker added 11 points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs, who shot 19 of 42. Mohammed finished with eight points.

Hedgesville hit 16 of 44 from the field, including 5 of 14 beyond the arc. Newby had eight points and six rebounds.

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