Bulldogs pull past Tigers
MARTINSBURG -Dave Rogers had seen enough.
The Martinsburg coach called a timeout only minutes into the second half, after underdog Elkins hit two quick baskets to cut the Bulldogs lead to nine.
“I’m tired of talking … you’ve gotta go play!” he told his team in no uncertain terms.
He wouldn’t have to talk much after that. The message had been received.
Martinsburg went on a 16-0 run, jumpstarting what had been a lethargic start, en route to an 88-56 win in one of the Class AAA, Region II championships. The win puts Martinsburg (23-2) back in the state tournament with likely the top seed for the second year in a row.
The run was quick, spurred by seniors Jordan Robinson and Donte Grantham, who had 14 of the 16 points.
“We were probably looking ahead to the states,” Robinson said. “Honestly, that’s probably true. We took them lightly. The timeout got us back in the game, got us focused on the game.”
The results of the run were devastating to an Elkins team who refused to go away early.
“They just turned it on,” Elkins coach John Lawson said. “They have the ability to hit the switch and turn in up a notch and that’s what they did. We hadn’t seen that kind of length and athleticism this year.”
By the time the smoke cleared, the Bulldogs had a 60-36 lead, and a berth in the state tournament, which begins Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center.
The game also marked a milestone for Grantham, who scored his 1,000th point at the 4:06 mark of the second quarter. He is the first player in the Dave Rogers era to score 1,000 points and have 500 rebounds. He is now just nine rebounds shy of 600.
“It was definitely an accomplishment, something I am proud of,” said Grantham, who got choked up talking about the achievement.
“It just shows that all the hard work I did, all those summers playing basketball, paid off.”
He is the second member of his family to score 1,000 points for Martinsburg. His sister Iesha Robinson did it in 2009, as a junior.
More important to Grantham, and the Bulldogs, were the eight he scored on the run. A lot of that was off the defense of Robinson, who had three of his five steals during the three minutes of ramped up Bulldog defense.
Robinson started the run followed by baskets by Eugene German and Grantham. Grantham added a free throw before a Robinson steal and lay-up. Grantham then hit a 3, followed by a Robinson basket and finally and a steal and feed from Robinson to Grantham for a slam dunk.
Game, set and match.
“I shouldn’t have to tell them anything,” Rogers said afterward.
“I didn’t think we were ready to play tonight. It sure looked that way.”
There were periods of play.
Jalen Lewis, who had a team-high 22 points, had 13 in the first quarter as Martinsburg took a 26-15 lead, although the game was tied at 9-9 early.
“I think they were concerned with shutting down Buddha (Grantham), and that left me open a lot,” Lewis said. “There were a lot of open looks. I felt it early. It’s nice to have a game like that; it’s going to give me confidence going into (the state tourney).
“We probably did underestimate them, thinking they weren’t all that. We just needed to refocus.”
By the time Grantham scored his 1,000th point, though, the lead had ballooned to 39-20.
Behind the shooting of Logan Phillips, Elkins got back in the game.
Phillips, who had a game-high 23 points, had three 3s in the second and helped the Tigers cut the lead to 45-32 at the half.
It was Phillips who had the first two baskets of the second half, forcing the Martinsburg timeout that changed the momentum and, in essence, the game.
“I think we did overlook them, and you can’t do that,” Grantham said. “Give them credit, they were hitting their shots.”
“They are as good as anybody in the state,” Lawson said. “I’m sure they probably thought we were a little inferior, and against that kind of talent, we probably are, but we came in here and faced the best team in the state and we made them play. I’m proud of our kids.”
Rogers had a different outlook.
“The important thing, we won the game,” Rogers said. “At this point, you have to win. And we did that.”
Grantham finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulldogs, while Robinson had 17 points, six rebounds and five steals. Freshman Jarrell Jones came off the bench to score 11 and David Long had nine. Denzel Cole did not score but had seven assists and four steals. Lewis, who was 5 of 9 from 3-point range, added six assists and four steals.
Martinsburg hit 50.8 percent from the field (29 of 57) and the Bulldogs were 8 of 20 on 3s.
They also had 20 steals and 20 assists on 37 made shots.
In addition to Phillips’ 23 points, Elkins (14-11) got 13 points and eight rebounds from Brandon Roth.