New-look Martinsburg begins title defense

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Martinsburg begins defense of its 2013 basketball state championship without six of its top scorers from a season ago. The Bulldogs, led by Donte Grantham and Jalen Lewis, brought home the Class AAA state title with a 57-52 win over Woodrow Wilson.

“We are certainly not the team we were last year, because we graduated six outstanding seniors,” coach Dave Rogers said. “We are going to be very young, we are probably going to start a freshman at the point and at least one sophomore, if not two.”

Donte Grantham is playing this year with Hargrave Military Academy.

Grantham has since graduated and moved on to Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy and recently signed to play with Clemson next season.

“Everyone knows I wanted him to land at West Virginia so we could watch him play, but that did not work out,” Rogers said. “But he will be fine. He is a nice young man and he works hard.”

Martinsburg will be a young, inexperienced squad that will have a target on its back. A tough schedule will force those young players to grow up fast. The Bulldogs open with Sherando, Va., before heading to Myrtle Beach for a tournament.

“I’m not sure we’re not circled every year (on opponents’ schedules),” Rogers said. “But that’s OK—I’d rather you be chasing me than me be chasing you.”

The Bulldogs will bring back sophomore Jarrell Jones, to go along with seniors Elisha Freeman, Jason Hill and Tory Lee, all of whom saw little time last year. Freeman led that group in averaging 6.7 points a game.

Like always, the Bulldogs will face their Eastern Panhandle rivals. Washington, in particular, will be a significant challenge considering the teams met four times last year, including the state semifinals. The Bulldogs won all four contests, but this year the Patriots return the bulk of their team.

“I think Washington is one of the teams to beat. They have got everyone back, plus they picked up another guard from a local school,” Rogers said. “They certainly have the talent to win it.”

As for the rest of Class AAA around the state?

“Huntington will be excellent with those young kids, and Wheeling Park we know is going to be good,” Rogers said. “Beckley has a lot back too. I don’t want to leave anybody out of it.”

Even with the youth playing a major factor this year, Rogers likes what he has seen in the offseason and in the preseason – he expects his Bulldogs to have plenty of success by the end of the year.

“I like what I see, we are a very high IQ basketball team and quick to pick up things, so we are very pleased right now,” Rogers said. “We may take a few lumps along the way, but give us a little time to season, and I think we are going to be a pretty good basketball team.”

2013 Basketball Schedule

12/13/13  7:30PM SHERANDO (Va.)
01/03/14  7:30PM WASHINGTON   
01/10/14  7:30PM HEDGESVILLE   
01/14/14  7:30PM @JEFFERSON   
01/16/14  7 PM @MERCERSBURG ACADEMY (Pa.).   
01/17/14  7:30PM @SPRING MILLS   
01/21/14  7:30PM @SHERANDO (Va.)
01/24/14  7:30PM @MUSSELMAN   
01/25/14  7:30PM MORGANTOWN   
01/31/14  7:30PM @HEDGESVILLE   
02/04/14  7:30PM MERCERSBURG ACADEMY (Pa.)
02/07/14  7:30PM JEFFERSON   
02/08/14  7:30PM @MORGANTOWN   
02/14/14  7:30PM MUSSELMAN   
02/18/14  7:30PM SPRING MILLS   
02/21/14  7:30PM WASHINGTON   
 wins: 0   lost: 0   ties: 0

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