SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — Hedgesville dictates the terms.
No public school team in West Virginia keeps the Eagles from setting the slow and slower pace it wants.
Jefferson, with its one win, knew what was coming when it had 10 points at the half of the 54-26 loss it was handed by the tempo-setting Eagles.
West Virginia public schools only rarely disturb Hedgesville’s clock-draining tactics. The Eagles find enough players who dribble well enough to keep pressure defenses from disturbing their strategy.
When they have a single possession that lasts for nearly three minutes, opponents’ individual defenders don’t maintain an intensity required to force a turnover or mistake.
Martinsburg beats the Eagles. Took the measure of Coach Kelly Church’s boys three times in three games last season. But Hedgesville still kept the number of possessions to a minimum and kept the scores in the 40s or 50s.
Getting the Eagles to move away from a crawl requires better players than Church has and team-wide attitudes to continue pressuring the Hedgesville ballhandlers. Or it requires better coaches. Martinsburg has better players.
Jefferson scored two points with its scant second-quarter possessions. It trailed by a dozen at the half. And then Hedgesville outscored the frustrated Cougars, 32-16, in the second half to hand Jefferson another loss.
Jefferson made one free throw. Hedgesville made three free throws, so few were the individual scoring opportunities.
Jefferson couldn’t pressure Hedgesville. Jefferson didn’t have any five individuals to continually harass the Eagle ballhandlers or dribblers.
And so Hedgesville again dictated the terms against a West Virginia public school. And Hedgesville had another win against a team that couldn’t find enough defenders with the necessary fundamentals and the type of conditioning to keep after the Eagles’ half-court offense.