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Hairston steps up for 'Dogs

March 05, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - By his own admission, Kirk Hairston has had a tough time getting enthusiastic about playing basketball for a good portion of the season.

Even though he was a contributing factor on Martinsburg's team that went to the state tournament last year, Hairston found the interest lacking this year.

"I wasn't really into playing. ... I felt burnt out," said Hairston. "I just really wasn't stepping up."

Until lately.

On Wednesday, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Hairston stepped forward with 12 points and eight rebounds to help guide Martinsburg to a 60-48 victory over Hedgesville in the West Virginia Class AAA Region II, Section 2 semifinals.

"The last three weeks Kirk has really elevated his game," said Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers, who had inserted Hairston into a starting role because Michael Cole has been subpar with the flu.

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"I knew I was going to start and the coaches worked in practice with me and (Tevin) Walker on taking it to (J.R.) Mayles and Mo (Newby) inside," said Hairston. "I've been feeling rejuvenated and knew what I had to do tonight."

Walker had six points and Hairston four in an opening period that left the teams deadlocked at 12 before the Bulldogs began to take control of the game in the second period.

While Hedgesville (16-8) missed three shots and had two turnovers to open the period, Martinsburg (21-2) opened a quick 20-12 lead in the first four minutes and ended on top at the break 29-16 on a late flurry that included a 3-pointer by Isaac Thornton off an inbounds play with 0.7 seconds remaining.

"We had a good first period and just came out and struggled in the second," said Hedgesville coach Kelly Church. "We got good looks but just didn't finish and we gave up points in easy transitions."

Hedgesville began to claw its way back into the game as Jordan Reed hit for eight points. Martinsburg found it tougher sledding against the Eagles' 1-3-1 defense and was guilty of six turnovers in the period.

The Eagles fought back to a one-possession game at 43-40 with 3:52 remaining, but Reed missed a 3-pointer and Cole scored in transition on a rebound putback. After a Hedgesville turnover, Hairston scored and the Bulldogs were back out to a 47-40 lead.

Hairston and Cole, in the game together most of the final period, were too much for Hedgesville on the inside. Each had three buckets and pounded the offensive boards.

At every opportunity down the stretch, Martinsburg wanted the ball in the hands of Thornton. He then began a two-minute parade to the foul line with the Eagles trying to work the clock, but he knocked down 11 of 12 to salt away the win and finish with a team-high 22 points.

Walker added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs, who controlled the backboards 35-26.

"(Walker) has been consistent and gotten so much tougher," said Rogers. "He gets in there and gets offensive boards."

Newby led four Eagles in double figures with 12 points while Reed and Scott Jones each had 11 and Duane Fleetwood 10.

A contributing factor was Mayles being held to two points on 1 of 9 shooting.

"I thought our 1-3-1 gave (Martinsburg) some problems," said Church. "But one thing that can hurt you is offensive rebounds, and we just gave up too many putbacks. Martinsburg's a talented team."

It was Martinsburg's third win over Hedgesville this year and the Bulldogs will try to make it the same three-game sweep over Musselman on Friday at Martinsburg in the section championship game.

Martinsburg 60, Hedgesville 48
HEDGESVILLE (16-8)

Reed 11, Fleetwood 10, Mayles 2, Newby 12, Jones 11, Snyder 2. Totals 16 10-14 48.
MARTINSBURG (21-2)
Cato 4, Thornton 22, Walker 12, Rogers 0, Hairston 12, Cole 8, Mohamed 2. Totals 21 17-26 60.
Hedgesville 12 4 13 19 -- 48
Martinsburg 12 17 6 25 -- 60

3-point goals - Hedgesville 6 (Reed 2, Jones 2, Fleetwood 2); Martinsburg (Thornton).

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