By Ryan Decker -- firstname.lastname@example.org
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Martinsburg's star senior Donte' Grantham had two NCAA Division I basketball scouts in attendance watching him play Wednesday night against Sherando.
Knowing that before the game, Bulldogs coach Dave Rogers took Grantham aside during the end of pre-game warmups.
"[Rogers] told to me to keep my head level and to be smart, play as the game comes to you," Grantham said.
And he didn't disappoint. Grantham filled up the stat sheet with his game-high 24 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and three assists. Four of his points came off of two dunks, one an alley-oop from David Long in the first quarter, and a powerful slam in transition during the third period.
Grantham's big game powered the Bulldogs to a 99-71 victory over Sherando.
"Donte' is a Division I player, he's worked hard in the offseason to improve," Rogers said. "He's one of our leaders."
Martinsburg led by 12 at halftime after a strong finish to the second quarter. But a sloppy start by both teams washed away any momentum held by the Bulldogs. The sloppy start led to a Martinsburg timeout with five minutes remaining in the period.
The defense tightened up, swarming the ball and causing turnovers. Martinsburg's stingy defense only allowed seven points the rest of the quarter, while its offense scored 17 following the timeout, two of those points include Grantham's dunk from Jarrell Jones.
Martinsburg led by 22 after the third quarter and continued to extend its lead in the fourth. The Bulldogs' lead quickly jumped out to 26 and then to a game-high 28. The defense tightened up again at the end for Martinsburg, causing two steals -- back-to-back by Jason Hill and Jones, both leading to points.
Martinsburg was not settled in early on. The Bulldogs committed six turnovers in the opening three minutes and looked at a six-point deficit. The Bulldogs tied the game and then jumped out to a four-point lead.
Two steals by Jalen Lewis and Long to start the second quarter put Martinsburg up by four and later in the period a Lewis jump shot put Martinsburg up by 10, its largest lead to that point.
During the second period, Grantham went up for a potential dunk in transition but was bear-hugged and fouled hard by a Sherando player, who was given and intentional foul. Immediately after the play ended, a technical foul was given to Long.
Grantham made both of his free throws and Sherando's Aaron Miller made both of the technical free throws, as well.
Rogers said that even though the win looked convincing, there are still some things the team can improve on.
"Well, if you looked at the scoreboard you'd say we played pretty good," Rogers said. "But we saw some breakdowns that we don't like to see. There were times we gave up too many easy buckets and if you do that too much it's going to cost you."