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Bulldogs top Tuscarora after losing big lead

January 03, 2009|By CHRIS CARTER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- With a 20-point lead in the first half, few would have expected that the Martinsburg boys basketball team would need any clutch plays down the stretch.

Yet that's exactly what the Bulldogs required after falling behind for the first time with less than two minutes left in regulation.

Michael Cole stole an inbounds pass and found Lance Washington for the tying layup with 15 seconds left to send the game to overtime and Martinsburg made one more big play than the Titans in the extra period to survive for a 60-57 home victory.

"When you get into this type of ballgame it could go either way," said Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers. "The kids handled themselves well. You hope the seniors do that because they've been through the wars before. They just had to do what's right and take care of things."

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That they did, beginning with Cole at the end of regulation.

The 6-foot-8 senior had the duty of guarding the inbounds pass of Justin Bowens near midcourt with Martinsburg trailing 53-51. Running out of time, Bowens tried to throw the ball off of Cole to get another sideline pass and a fresh five-second clock.

Instead, Cole caught the ball in his gut and got the ball to Washington, who finished the layup in transition to knot the game at 53-53."(Bowens) was going to throw it in and (Rogers) just told me to play good defense," said Cole, who had nine points and 12 rebounds. "It hit off me and I caught it. I was going to take it in myself but then I saw a 2-on-1 and I got it to Lance."

Bowens missed the winning layup with three seconds left to force overtime. Martinsburg scored first on a Tevin Walker basket and the Bulldogs didn't trail for the rest of the game.

Cameron Cato went high off the glass to give the Bulldogs a 58-55 lead with 40 seconds left. After a wide-open layup by Bowens, Washington hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it 60-57 with 5.5 seconds left.

Martinsburg called a timeout to set its defense, which held up after Marsalis Ballard's 3-pointer to tie was off the mark.

"Our kids held their composure and did what they had to do to stop the 3-pointer," Rogers said. "There was a lot of strategy at the end. Both teams were using the fouls they had left, giving 2s and not 3s. It was a big win for us in a very tough game."

It appeared to be anything but tough in the first half during which the Bulldogs hit six consecutive shots -- three 3s -- to race out to a 15-0 lead. The margin was 38-17 after Inshan Mohamed nailed a 3 with 2:19 remaining in the second quarter.

Jonathan Thomas hit a runner at the buzzer to make it 38-20, giving Tuscarora something to feel positive about at halftime. They turned it into much more in the second.

The Titans outscored Martinsburg 19-5, using an 11-0 run to end the third quarter to close the gap to 43-39. They tied the game at 51-51 on a 3-pointer by Thomas with 2:15 left in the game and took their first lead on a bucket by C.J. Ingram with 1:39 remaining.

"I was thinking that we were going to lose," Cole said. "In the second half (Tuscarora) played with more heart than us."

Cato led Martinsburg with 12 points, Walker had 10 and Isaac Thornton added nine.

Thomas scored a game-high 26, while Ingram finished with 13 in the loss.

Martinsburg 60, Tuscarora 57
TUSCARORA (5-2)

Randolph 3, Bowens 6, Thomas 26, Talley 4, Kraham 4, Ingram 13, Ballard 1. Totals 21 13-20 57.
MARTINSBURG (5-1)
Cato 12, Chase 5, Cole 9, Mohamed 9, Thornton 9, Walker 10, Washington 6. Totals 23 9-15 60.
Tuscarora 10 10 19 14 4 -- 57
Martinsburg 20 18 5 10 7 -- 60

3-point goals - Tuscarora 2 (Thomas 2); Martinsburg 5 (Cato, Mohamed, Thornton, Walker 2). JV - Martinsburg, 46-41, OT (T: Isiah Plummer 12; M: John Eddy Claireus 18).

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