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Eagles play 'an awful good game' to advance

February 28, 2008|By JOHN O'BRIEN / Staff Correspondent

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - At its best, the Hedgesville offense can resemble a layup line.

Wednesday, the Eagles must have been at their best, because the baskets were coming that easy.

Led by guards Duane Fleetwood and Jordan Reed, Hedgesville ran right past Jefferson 64-45 in the first round of the West Virginia Class AAA Region II Section 2 boys basketball playoffs. The Eagles (20-2) shot 61 percent from the floor, including 23 makes from in close.

"Tonight reminded myself of what I think people think of when they think about Hedgesville basketball," said coach Kelly Church, whose team will play Martinsburg at 7 p.m. Friday at Jefferson. "We did a much, much better job sharing the ball and letting the plays make themselves instead of ourselves trying to make plays."

Fleetwood, Reed and J.R. Mayles routinely worked free on cuts and found themselves alone under the basket against Jefferson's man-to-man defense. Reed led the way with 19 points, while Fleetwood added 16 and Mayles 14.

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"We were a step slow," Jefferson coach Bob Starkey said. "We were just following, not overplaying anybody."

It helped Hedgesville make 23 of its 32 2-point shots. The most challenging of the makes were short jumpers in the lane.

"They had a good game tonight, and we didn't have a good game," Starkey said.

It started early, as the Eagles made 9 of 14 shots in the first quarter to grab a 21-11 lead. Denver Effland hit a pair of 3-pointers, but the rest of the damage was done in the paint. Mayles capped a 9-0 run when he finished on a 4-on-1 break with 1:05 left to make it 21-9.

Behind 34-24 at halftime, Jefferson (15-6) could not muster any sort of a comeback. Justin Fagan's free throw made it 42-33 with 3:52 left in the third quarter, but Reed hit a 3, Maurice Newby scored off an offensive rebound and Reed added a leaner in the lane to make it 49-33 with 1:45 left.

The Eagles' biggest lead came when Fleetwood scored a layup off a pass from Nathan Beard that made it 62-41 with 3:05 left in the game.

Justin Fagan scored 19 points for Jefferson, making 7 of his 9 shots. Vance Hosby posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

"Vance Hosby is a first-team, Class AAA all-state basketball player," Church said. "He's one of the best, if not the best, big men in the state. Against Hedgesville High School, he had 16 points (in three games). I think that says a lot about our bigger kids' ability to do what (assistant coach Chris Ruest) tells them to and put a gameplan into action."

Dewey McDonald, who hit the game-winning shot in Jefferson's earlier win against the Eagles, was held to three points on 1-of-11 shooting. Defensive stopper Tyler Hester was hampered by illness and vomited before the game and at halftime. He sat out the entire first quarter.

Meanwhile, the Cougars had a difficult time hitting any shots from the outside, converting only three of their 17 3-point attempts.

Defensively, Starkey said there was never any talk of switching to a zone.

"We knew what we had to do to beat them," he said. "They're a good shooting team, very patient. We were going to do what brought us here, and that was our half-court man-to-man."

Meanwhile, Church said his team was inspired by a Starkey quote in which he said it would take a good team playing "an awful good game to beat us."

According to Starkey, that occurred Wednesday.

"They played about as good as they can tonight," Starkey said.

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