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Brennan, Bachtell ... Brennan, Bachtell ...

January 23, 1999|By DAN SPEARS

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - Carey Brennan and Rachel Bachtell.

It's been said so many times that many people are getting sick of hearing it.

Add Middletown girls basketball coach Kara Nelson to that list.

The Smithsburg senior combo did what they do best Friday night - pulling out a 59-56 thriller that snapped a five-game Middletown winning streak.

"They're four-year starters, and when they're out there, you can't help but be comfortable," Smithsburg coach Jimmy Powell said.

Brennan had 22 points and eight rebounds, and Bachtell finished with 11 points, 13 assists and only one turnover in a game that kept the No. 4 Leopards atop the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

"We'd never beaten them here," Bachtell said. "So we've left in pretty good shape."

Things seemed to be in pretty good shape for the Leopards (9-2, 8-2) after Bachtell's pull-up jumper gave them a 51-43 lead with 5:47 to play.

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But a 9-0 run by the Knights gave No. 7 Middletown a one-point lead with 3:40 to play.

Despite the loss of a lead they held for 26 minutes, Bachtell, Brennan and Company didn't panic.

"There was a lot of time left, so I wasn't real nervous," Bachtell said. "I still thought we could pull it out."

"I just knew we had to get the lead back," Brennan said. "Once we had that, I knew we would be fine."

Bachtell responded with a 3-pointer at the 2:08 mark for a 54-52 lead.

But that lead never would have materialized if Middletown (8-5, 6-3) hadn't missed four straight free throws - including two 1-and-1s - before that.

"That's just incredible," Nelson said.

"Heck, even if we hit 50 percent of those, we're tied."

With Smithsburg up 57-56, Middletown's final shot at the lead evaporated.

Allison Johnson missed an open layup, and the Knights were forced to foul.

Smithsburg returned the free-throw favor at the end, as Brennan missed the back end of consecutive 1-and-1s in the last 20 seconds.

But Liz Shannon's 3-pointer at the buzzer was just right.

"I know she (Johnson) is frustrated," Nelson said. "But it just doesn't come down to one shot, even though it may look like it at the end."

Middletown was forced to play catch-up because of some sparkling Smithsburg offense in the third quarter.

The Leopards ran their offense to perfection in the period, going 10-for-12 from the field and making seven straight at one point.

Brennan had the team's first eight points of the second half, and Bachtell added four assists in the quarter as the Leopards moved to a seven-point lead entering the frenetic final quarter.

"We just came out really pumped up," Bachtell said.

"Coach said we just needed to come out and take the lead," Brennan said.

Mission accomplished.

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