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Eagles withstand Cougars' pressure

February 07, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. -- It was the kind of second half that had to bring a smile to the face of Hedgesville boys basketball coach Kelly Church.

Locked in a dogfight at No. 5 Jefferson on Friday night, the No. 3 Eagles put together one of their best halves of ball this season, making 14 of 18 field goals, 11 of 16 free throws and playing the ball-control style Church preaches to turn back the Cougars 61-53 in a Potomac Valley Conference Division III showdown.

"We did a great job playing team basketball," Church said. "I'll be interested to see how many baskets came off assists. My guess is it's a pretty high percentage. ... There's no way you can simulate Jefferson's pressure. They did a great job, gave a great effort and the game certainly could have gone either way. I feel extremely fortunate to get out of here with a victory."

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Locked in a 37-37 tie with two minutes left in the third quarter, baskets by Marquis Woods and J.R. Mayles helped Hedgesville (11-5, 4-2) take a 42-38 lead into the fourth.

Jefferson (7-6, 0-4) closed within 46-45 on two free throws by Dewey McDonald -- who led all players with 21 points -- with 6:54 left.

Hedgesville came back with a 5-0 run capped by Duane Fleetwood's layup off a long inbounds pass over the Cougars' pressure with 6 minutes left to take a six-point lead. It was one of a handful of long passes Hedgesville used to beat Jefferson's press.

Jefferson's Garrett Grantham hit a transition basket and made two free throws to cut the lead to 51-49 with 4:01 left, but Woods answered with a layup off a backdoor cut down the lane with 3:48 left.

Then on the Eagles' next possession, they held the ball for about 1:30 before Fleetwood capped it with a layup at the 2:04 mark for a 55-49 lead -- a dagger in Jefferson's hopes.

"That's the way Hedgesville basketball used to play, and we've gotten away from that," Church said. "That's a group of kids willing to buy in, a group of kids willing to sacrifice some of their individual talents for the benefit of the team."

"We tried to play basketball and they played keep-away," Jefferson coach Bob Starkey said. "That's why the shot clock came into college basketball, they got too good keeping the ball away and the high school kids are getting to that stage. It's not a big feat if you want to play keep-away."

Grantham's 3-pointer with 54.8 seconds left cut Hedgesville's lead to 57-53, but Fleetwood -- who led Hedgesville with 17 points -- went 4-for-4 at the foul line in the closing seconds to ice the game.

"It's kind of interesting that Duane hasn't started the last three games," Church said. "Sometimes as a coach you try to teach life lessons and hope it works out, and it doesn't always go as well as it did tonight."

J.R. Mayles had 13 points for Hedgesville. Jones and Grantham each finished with 11 for Jefferson, which made just 16 of 52 shots compared to the Eagles' 22 of 38.

"They executed," Starkey said of the Eagles. "They broke us down in the halfcourt game and then they'd get something easy. At that stage in the game they weren't shooting anything but layups, that's all they took was layups, and they did it well."

Hedgesville 61, Jefferson 53
HEDGESVILLE (11-5, 4-2)

Fleetwood 17, Newby 7, Reed 8, Mayles 13, Jones 7, Woods 9. Totals 22 14-23 61.
JEFFERSON (7-6, 0-4)
Zbikowski 2, McDonald 21, Jones 11, Johnson 5, DeLawder 2, Grantham 11, Regalia 1. Totals 16 14-21 53.
Hedgesville 12 9 21 19 -- 61
Jefferson 11 11 16 15 -- 53

3-point goals -- Hedgesville 3 (Fleetwood 2, Woods), Jefferson 7 (McDonald 3, Jones 3, Grantham). Fouled out -- Jones, Regalia.

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