CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Survive and advance is the name of the game at this stage of the season.
That’s just what third-seeded Martinsburg did, as the Bulldogs nearly let an 11-point lead slip away in the final three minutes, but did enough to prevail over No. 6 Cabell Midland 57-52 in a Class AAAA quarterfinal at the Charleston Coliseum.
“We’ve been focused this whole trip and whole year,” said veteran Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers after earning his 802nd career win. “We got up for breakfast this morning and I didn’t have to knock on one door. They’re here for a reason.”
After Doryn Smith’s follow-up basket put Martinsburg (15-1) on top 54-43 with 2:52 remaining, things got dicey down the stretch for the Bulldogs.
Baskets by Dominic Schmidt and K.K. Siebert allowed the Knights (12-5) to close the deficit to seven, and Schmidt’s three-pointer with 1:29 left made it a four-point game.
CMHS got as close as two on a Chandler Schmidt jump shot, before fouling three times over the next 25 seconds to reach six team fouls.
“A lot of teams would have folded against Martinsburg,” Knights’ coach J.J. Martin said. “We didn’t do that. We kept getting after it and made it a one-possession game.”
But instead of a seventh foul to put the Bulldogs at the free-throw line, Martinsburg guard Garrett Staubs lofted a well-placed inbound pass from near his team’s bench to Tre Segar, who scored inside with 27 seconds left to make it 56-52.
“(Segar) did a good job of sealing and it was a better pass than anything,” Martin said.
Chandler Schmidt couldn’t get a triple to fall on the ensuing possession and the Knights never scored again.
Cabell Midland made half of its 12 field-goal attempts in the opening quarter and never trailed while building a 15-12 lead.
Luke Fowler’s jump shot with 5:40 to play in the second quarter gave the Bulldogs their first lead at 18-17, and after the Knights regained the lead, Martinsburg closed the opening half on an 11-5 surge to enter break on top 29-25.
“I thought at point we were playing not to lose instead of to win,” Rogers said.
Although the Bulldogs only shot 33 percent in the third quarter, their ability to offensive rebound enabled them to attempt 18 shots and build the lead to 42-35 entering the fourth.
Smith and Segar combined for Martinsburg’s first eight points of the final period and the Bulldogs took their first double-digit advantage at 50-40 with 4:17 left. Smith, in particular, was a key factor in the Bulldogs’ solving the Knights’ 1-3-1 zone.
“I was just taking what they were giving me and I was seeing what (Siebert) was giving me,” Smith said. “It was a very fun experience. Just glad we got the win.”
The Knights outscored the Bulldogs 8-0 in points off turnovers in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs won that battle for the game, 18-17.
MHS also had a 19-9 advantage in second-chance points and 12-2 in fast break points.
Smith was the lone Bulldog in double figures with 16 points and added a team-high nine rebounds, including five of his team’s 19 offensive boards.
Segar overcame three first-half fouls and playing only 17 minutes to finish with eight points, five boards and three steals.
“If they see my head down, they’ll probably put their heads down,” Segar said. “Just tried to stay positive.”
Staubs added eight points and six rebounds in the Bulldogs’ 15th straight victory since a season-opening setback to Morgantown.
All nine Martinsburg players to see action scored.
“Our bench was a little deeper,” Rogers said. “If we just had five guys and never played anybody else, I doubt we’d win it. The physical wear and tear would take its toll.”
Chandler Schmidt had 19 points and nine boards, while Siebert finished with 13 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.
Palmer Riggio had half of his team’s 10 steals in defeat.
“Rebounding and turnovers were the difference,” Martin said. “Early in the first half, we had some turnovers we shouldn’t have had and we let their pressure both us. They had our offense really extended out far and that’s what Martinsburg does.”