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Bench helps 'Dogs unseat Musselman

March 07, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers has confidence. He knows he can choose anyone from his bench and get productive results.

On Friday, he got everything needed from non-starters Michael Cole and Inshan Mohamed as the Bulldogs escaped with a harrowing 54-48 overtime victory over determined Musselman for the Class AAA Region II Section 1 championship.

Cole scored his biggest bucket of the year on a 3-pointer from the left wing to open overtime that broke the 46-46 tie and allowed Martinsburg (22-2) to take control.

"We've got seven, eight guys that can be starters or come off the bench," said Rogers. "Kirk (Hairston) came up big Wednesday and tonight Inshan and Michael stepped up big."

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Cole's bucket came out of a timeout but he was not the primary shooter.

"We wanted to load heavy on the right side, but Michael was open," said Rogers, who said he flinched a bit when the shot went up.

"The defense left me wide open and I didn't have any second thoughts about the shot," said Cole, who also hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter to ignite Martinsburg on a 9-0 run for a 19-12 lead after the first period.

Cole also stamped the win with a slam dunk in transition.

The victory gives Martinsburg one final home game on Tuesday against Bridgeport, who lost in the Section 2 final to R.C. Byrd. A win sends the Bulldogs to the state tournament in Charleston, something the Applemen still have a shot at accomplishing.

Even with the loss, Musselman goes on the road Tuesday to face R.C. Byrd. The winner also heads to Charleston and the state tournament.

Rogers did not hesitate saying, "You could very well see Musselman in Charleston."

Never mind that Martinsburg had beaten Musselman twice during the regular season by a combined 40 points. The Applemen were on a roll after beating Jefferson on Wednesday.

And the similarities were like one year ago when Martinsburg had walloped Musselman twice in the regular season only to escape with a two-point playoff win over the Applemen to gain a state berth.

Musselman took Martinsburg out of its offensive flow in the second period by refusing to change defense from a 1-3-1 to man. Martinsburg held the ball for nearly three minutes with a 25-17 lead.

The Applemen cut the deficit to 25-21 at the break.

By then, Mohamed had scored all six of Martinsburg's second-quarter points, a huge boost since leading scorer Isaac Thornton went scoreless in the first half.

"I thought we took them out of their flow of the game," said Musselman coach Derek Basile. "We wanted a low-scoring game and it was also a help it got the guys some much-needed rest out there on the floor."

Martinsburg began to look like a winner when it took a 40-30 lead with 1:02 left in the third period.

The Applemen would not roll over. They clawed their way back into the game, eventually knotting the score at 43 with 2:57 left in regulation on back-to-back buckets by Morgan McDonald.

"We were a different team when we were able to get the ball down low and convert inside," said Basile.

McDonald followed with a pair of free throws for a 45-43 Musselman lead with 1:19 remaining, but Cam Cato hit 1 of 2 free throws and Thornton calmly hit two freebies with 47 seconds remaining to put the Bulldogs on top, 46-45.

Musselman's Derek Brown hit one free throw with 27 seconds left and Cato then missed on a 3-pointer at the buzzer ending regulation.

Cato, who was praised by Rogers as having an outstanding game, led the Bulldogs with 15 points, Cole had 13 and Mohamed had nine. Tevin Walker also had nine points and seven rebounds.

McDonald led Musselman with 15 points, Holloman had 14 and Alvarez had 10.

Martinsburg 54, Musselman 48
MUSSELMAN (18-6)

Alvarez 10, Daniels 3, McDonald 15, Holloman 14, Brown 4, Pons 2. Totals 17 9-12 48.
MARTINSBURG (22-2)
Cato 15, Thornton 7, Hairston 0, Walker 9, Rogers 0, Mohamed 10, Cole 13. Totals 17 14-21 54.
Musselman 12 9 11 14 2 -- 48
Martinsburg 19 6 15 6 8 -- 54

3-point goals -- Musselman 5 (Holloman 4, Brown); Martinsburg (6 (Mohamed 2, Cole 2, Walker 2).

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