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Published: Fri, February 15, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

The eagles defeated Hickory for the second time this season.



GROVE CITY -- It was a battle between veterans and the "new" kids on the block Thursday, when Grove City and Hickory met for the second time this season.

Experience prevailed.

The Eagles soared to a convincing 51-35 win over the visiting Hornets, in Mercer County Athletic Conference girls basketball action.

In the first meeting, Grove City (19-4, 4-1) pulled away down the stretch for a 62-56 win.

This time, the Eagles took control of the contest early.

"I thought this was one of the best games we have played in the last couple of years," Grove City coach Roger Flynn said. "Everybody who was on the floor played very well.

"We didn't commit unnecessary fouls, we handled the ball very well and we shot a reasonably high percentage. We were hoping to keep them under 40 [points]."

Smith stars: Chelsea Smith again played outstanding. In the first meeting, Smith led all scorers with 25 points. Last night, she again took game honors with 19 points.

"[Smith] was real big in the first half," Flynn said. "She had a ton of points and we needed her to do that. Our point guard [Amber McFeely] and our wings [Shannon O'Neil and Chalsie Redfoot] did a good job of getting the ball to her."

Bruce Bittler, filling in for Hickory head coach Jeanette Whitehead who gave birth to a son Tuesday, felt the Hornets lacked the enthusiasm they had in the first meeting.

"I don't think we had the spark we had in the other three triple-A games we played," Bittler said. "Now that we are out of the playoff picture, Grove City had a lot more to play for than we did."

Hickory struggles: While the Eagles were having their way offensively, Hickory (14-9, 1-4) struggled when it had the ball.

"We needed to shot the ball well tonight, and in the first half, we were four of 26," Bittler said. "On the other hand, they came out and hit on 12 out of 17 of their 2-point shots, so they were hitting their shots and we were missing ours."

With the Hornets trailing 21-30, the Eagles pulled away by scoring 11 unanswered points to take a 41-21 lead with a minute left in the third.

Key shots: "Angela Burk hit two really big shots that really spread them out," Flynn said. "Some of our biggest shots came near the end of the third quarter when Shannon O'Neil hit two big threes and Amber McFeely followed with another one. That really created the room we needed so the game didn't come down to the wire."

McFeely finished with 12 points and Burk had 10.

Freshman point guard Chere' Marshall led Hickory with 17 points.


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