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'Dogs hold lead just long enough

February 14, 2009|By CHRIS CARTER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The Martinsburg boys basketball team never trailed in its Eastern Panhandle showdown with Hedgesville on Friday night.

It's not always easy being the leader.

Martinsburg built a 12-point halftime cushion behind Isaac Thornton's 19 first-half points, yet the Bulldogs needed Hedgesville to falter at the foul line in the final seconds to survive for a 57-53 Potomac Valley Conference victory on Senior Night.

"In the first half I had no problems whatsoever," said Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers. "The second half, I thought we came out and got a little bit sloppy. We let their zone bother us, we make a couple turnovers and all of a sudden we're back in the fight of our lives."

Martinsburg (17-2, 6-0) had only four turnovers in the first half and took a 33-21 lead into the locker room. But the Bulldogs turned the ball over four times in the first 1:56 of the second half as Hedgesville began to chip away at the deficit.

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The Eagles (11-6, 4-3) used a 15-5 run to start the third quarter to cut the scored to 38-36 with 3:01 left -- the closest margin since it was 2-0 in the opening minutes.

Martinsburg kept the Eagles at bay behind a pair of 3-point plays by Tevin Walker and two buckets by Thornton to stake a 48-42 lead early in the fourth quarter.

But Hedgesville could not be turned away easily, responding with a 7-2 spurt to cut the gap to 50-49 with 3:07 left in the game.

The Bulldogs ate up clock by holding the ball in its next two possessions before finally being forced to the free-throw line. Walker and Thornton each hit a pair to up the lead to 54-50 with 28 seconds left.

Duane Fleetwood's 3 from the left wing once again brought Hedgesville to within one point. After another foul shot by Thornton, the Eagles trailed 55-53 with 14.9 seconds left and the ball -- with a chance to tie or take the lead.

Eagles senior Jordan Reed was fouled on the way to the basket and walked to the foul line to shoot two free throws with 1.9 seconds left -- Hedgesville still trailing 55-53.

His first shot rolled off the rim, forcing an intentional miss on the second attempt. That shot failed to hit iron and the Bulldogs took possession.

Lance Washington hit two free throws to seal it.

"We had an opportunity. We went the other way and got a look and it didn't go in," said Hedgesville coach Kelly Church. "Jordan went up and had a chance to tie it and fell short. It's certainly a tough spot to be in.

"As much as people might remember this, I'll remind them that he's the same kid who as a freshman in high school made two free throws to win a game against Jefferson, the third-ranked team in the state, at Shepherd (University)."

Reed was as much a part of the Eagles comeback as anyone, scoring 12 points and making four steals in the second half. He finished with a team-high 14 points, while Maurice Newby added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Thornton had game-highs of 28 points and 12 rebounds, while Walker scored eight points -- all in the second half -- to go with eight rebounds and three steals.

Martinsburg 57, Hedgesville 53
HEDGESVILLE (11-6, 4-3)

Reed 14, Jones 8, Woods 5, Fleetwood 8, Mayles 6, Newby 12. Totals 19 8-15 53.
MARTINSBURG (17-2, 6-0)
Rogers 2, Cato 10, Washington 4, Thornton 28, Cole 5, Walker 8. Totals 19 16-22 57.
Hedgesville 7 14 19 13 -- 53
Martinsburg 17 16 13 11 -- 57

3-point goals -- Hedgesville 7 (Reed 3, Jones 2, Scott, Fleetwood); Martinsburg 3 (Thornton 2, Walker). Technical foul -- Church. JV -- Martinsburg, 45-27 (H: Q.J. Peterson 16; M: Darren Arndt 15).

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