Musselman’s Morris Propels Lady Applemen to First Regional Title

(Story by Luke Wiggs)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — When 17 of the first 24 points of the Class AAAA Region II co-final belonged to Musselman’s opponent, the Lady Applemen needed to respond. And respond they did, by outscoring Martinsburg 43-19 for the rest of the game to claim their first ever regional title, 50-36.

Martinsburg’s strong start was propelled early on by timely shooting from Aania Gedeon. She scored 7 of her 9 points in the first half. Gedeon nailed a left wing triple to force a Musselman timeout midway through the second quarter with the Bulldogs up 17-7.

Out of the timeout the Lady Applemen finished the half on a 5-2 run, but still trailed 19-12 at the break.

“We went into halftime and knew we struggled, Martinsburg had their way,” first-year Musselman head coach Tim Potter said. “But we were only down a few possessions in a win-or-go-home scenario. We needed to turn up the heat because we had nothing to lose. And they bought into that.”

Musselman came out of the locker room with added defensive intensity, forcing a series of turnovers culminating in a Jasmine Morris and-1 to give the Lady Applemen a 22-21 lead with 3:41 left in the 3rd quarter. It was their first lead since it was 5-4 minutes into the first.

“We made some tweaks on defense and ramped it up.” Potter said. “Then we started to make shots which really helped. These girls behind the scenes have been working so hard for this moment.”

Sophomore Bri Banjoman scored a pair of baskets to balloon the lead to 28-21 before Martinsburg threw their last counter punch of the game. A pair of Hayley Martin free throws, a Chloe Irving putback layup and a Serenity Ritchie three tied the game at 28 early in the fourth quarter.

Musselman then went on a 12-0 run to regain a lead they would not relinquish.

After freshman Emily Stevens hit a three, Ciara Puller and Jasmine Morris forced multiple turnovers for layups including an acrobatic and-1 from Morris, who made it 38-28 Musselman with a made free throw with 4:33 left. Morris finished with a game-high 23 points.

“Big time players make big time plays, and she certainly did tonight.” Potter said.

“I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work tonight and I needed to push through it.” Morris said. “And my teammates helped me through everything. We wouldn’t be here without each other.”

After the timeout, Musselman continued to wreak havoc with full court pressure, finishing the game on a 12-6 run.

Emily Stevens finished with 10 points for the Lady Applemen. Gedeon and Irving lead Martinsburg with 9, Kaydence Bradley and Tianna Sanabria each scored 7.

The Lady Applemen head to Charleston for the first time in program history and as a No. 8 seed. They will take on top seed George Washington Tuesday evening at 7:15 in the quarterfinals.

“It’s amazing, first time in school history and I’m on cloud nine right now.” Potter said. “I’m so proud of them for making history for this school, they really deserve it.”

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