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Robinson shoulders load for No. 1 'Dogs

January 23, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Iesha Robinson's uniform can't hide her strongest basketball attribute.

"She has big shoulders," said Martinsburg girls basketball coach Mike Mackey. "She's explosive and she's tough to play 1-on-1. When the team struggles, she can put it on her back and carry them."

Robinson's shoulders became as big as a fireplace mantlepiece on Thursday. The senior scored No. 1 Martinsburg's first 15 points of the third quarter to break a 26-26 halftime tie and lead the Bulldogs to a 69-50 victory over cross-county rival Hedgesville.

The Bulldogs (11-1) increased the tempo to start the second half, using man pressure to wear down Hedgesville's guards. Robinson was on the top half of that pressure and was able to get out in transition to put the Bulldogs head -- and shoulders -- above the Eagles.

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"She does a little of everything well for us," Mackey said. "She is a well-rounded player. Her game is the transition game. She's tough to defend in the open court. She's an incredible player. ... What can I say?"

Mackey didn't have to say much. Robinson -- with the help of that Bulldogs defense -- took over the game by scoring half of her game-high 30 points in a four-minute, 12-second span.

After Katy Leborious hit a layup to give the Eagles (8-5) a 28-26 lead to start the second half, Martinsburg ran off a 16-2 run -- the first 15 by Robinson on a variety of drives and jumpers off transition play to take a 42-30 lead.

The Bulldogs led 45-34 after three quarters.

"They have a lot of athletes to defend on the floor," said Hedgesville coach Ben Merica. "We played too much at their pace and we can't score like that. We felt like we had to keep the game in the low 40s to be successful, so the 26 points in the first half took us out of that realm."

Martinsburg jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead to open the game, but Hedgesville instilled a will of patience to control much of the first half. The Eagles worked the ball around and made the Bulldogs jittery because they were standing still too long.

Hedgesville found Leborious and center Brittany Boarman to take a 26-23 advantage, before Jackie Brewer hit a 25-foot 3-pointer in the final second of the half to knot the game at 26 at the intermission.

"Jackie hit some big shots and that one at the end of the half helped change the momentum," Mackey said. "We came in at the half and made the adjustment against Hedgesville's zone. The best way to beat it is top rotate the basketball and we have Iesha and Jackie out there to take the shots."

Martinsburg's pressure and transition kept Hedgesville out of the game as the Bulldogs slowly built to that final 19-point bulge.

"(Martinsburg) was averaging 73.8 points a game," Merica said. "They don't like to take it down low. They like to run. Once they got into the transition, we weren't able to run at that pace."

Brewer followed Robinson in the Martinsburg scorebook with 23 points, including three 3s, as the Bulldogs' only scorers in double figures. Leborious had 23 for Hedgesville, while Boarman finished with 11.

"They were the first team to play a zone against us and we shot well from the outside over the top of it," Mackey said. "We didn't play that well and we still won by 20,I have to be happy with that."

Martinsburg 69, Hedgesville 50
HEDGESVILLE (8-5)

Mason 3, Br. Stenson 2, Leborious 23, Brooks 9, Hoffmaster 2, Boarman 11 Totals 21 7-16 50.
MARTINSBURG (11-1)
Rogers 3, Evans 11, Quinn 2, Robinson 30, Brewer 23, Pinkcett 4, Hill 4 Totals 25 12-17 69.
Hedgesville 7 19 8 16 -- 50
Martinsburg 12 14 19 15 -- 69

3-point goals -- Hedgesville 1 (Brooks), Martinsburg 7 (Brewer 3, Robinson 2, Rogers, Evans).

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