State Tournament: Slow start, strong finish for Martinsburg
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jordan Robinson hit consecutive 3-pointers 58 seconds apart in the fourth quarter of Martinsburg's 60-50 win over Huntington in Thursday's Class AAA 1 vs. 8 quarterfinals matchup.
The first of Robinson's 3s came with 3:42 left and gave Martinsburg (24-2) the lead for good. The second came with 2:44 left and the Bulldogs' lead swelled to six points, their biggest of the back-and-forth contest.
Robinson had no reason to be confident in those two shots, but he collected each pass, planted his feet and hoisted them anyway.
"I probably played one of the worst first halves of basketball I played all season," the 6-foot-4, 180-pound senior said, "so I figured it couldn't get any worse than that.
"I just let them fly."
Robinson shook off a scoreless first half in which he missed his only two field goal attempts (3-pointers) to hit 4-of-5 second-half shots and reach double figures with 10 points.
His 3s put Martinsburg, winners of 11 consecutive games, up 51-48 and 54-48. Huntington (18-7) never got closer than 3 points after Robinson's back-to-back baskets.
Martinsburg, which lost only once to an in-state team (at Morgantown, 64-59, Jan. 19), rarely led before Robinson's 3-pointers. The Bulldogs held the lead for 18 seconds in the first quarter, 14 seconds in the second quarter and 19 seconds in the third.
They had the lead three times in the fourth quarter totaling 2:05. Then Huntington junior Chancelor Wooding drained a 3 to tie it at 48-48 with 4:02 left of the fourth quarter.
It was the sixth and final tie of the game.
"I thought they weathered the storm," Martinsburg Coach Dave Rogers said of his players. "Came back and did a great job in the second (half)."
Martinsburg seemed flummoxed by Huntington's zone defense in the first half and Rogers admitted his players settled for outside shots. The Bulldogs missed 12 of their 13 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half, including a 0-for-5 performance from 6-7 star Donte Grantham.
With Grantham's size on the perimeter, Huntington outrebounded Martinsburg 18-12 in the first half en route to a 5-point lead at intermission.
In the second half, the Bulldogs held a 21-8 edge on the boards.
Grantham, a coveted and uncommitted Division I prospect, finished with a team-high 16 points and game-high 13 rebounds. He had 10 points and nine rebounds in the second half.
"They were switching up some zones a little bit," Rogers said of Huntington. "A couple of times we weren't patient. I thought we started out the game shooting too many 3s."
Martinsburg fell behind by 7 early in the second half and trailed 37-31 with 4:58 left of the third. The Bulldogs closed that period on a 9-2 run and outscored the Highlanders 29-13 over the final 12:58.
The final spurt was keyed by Robinson, who was left open twice as the Highlanders' defense swarmed Grantham in the high post and drifted toward second-leading scorer Jalen Lewis.
"(Robinson) was definitely not one of the two who was one of our targets," Huntington Coach Ronald Hess said. "He hit a couple of big shots there."
Martinsburg will face the winner of today's 11:15 a.m. quarterfinal game between No. 4 Washington (20-5) and No. 5 Parkersburg South (21-4).
Whichever team wins that game will get a Martinsburg club that has won 20 of 24 games by double digits this season.
Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at email@example.com or 304-348-7949.