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Ambrose rescues Knights in win

January 23, 1999|By MARK KELLER

SMITHSBURG - Middletown coach Tim Leber took the "wait-and-see" approach with Jared Ambrose on Friday.

Leber had Ambrose, who missed school Wednesday and Thursday with a stomach problem, wait on the bench during the opening minutes against Smithsburg. But when he saw the Leopards jump out to an early seven-point lead, Leber could wait no longer.

Enter Ambrose, who responded with 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Knights to a 49-43 win over a relentless Smithsburg squad Friday in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

"He said he was fine, but you never know," Leber said. "We wanted to see how he felt once he got into the flow of the game. He hit some huge shots and came up with some clutch rebounds in the end."

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Ambrose's biggest shots came in the fourth quarter - a 3-pointer that tied the game at 39-39, and another 3 that put the Knights (7-6, 7-2) up by six with 4 minutes, 25 seconds remaining.

"I didn't shoot well in the first half, and I was afraid that my shot would be off in the second half," Ambrose said. "It was feeling pretty good then (in the second half). It feels good whenever they're falling."

Ambrose's bombs did not demoralize the Leopards, however. Apollo Bey found Mark Hutzell under the basket for a quick bucket to cut the deficit to four. After holding the Knights without a score on three straight possessions, Chip Kershner swished a 10-footer to get Smithsburg (5-8, 2-7) within two with 1:46 left.

But Middletown took time off the clock its next trip, forcing Smithsburg to foul in order to get the ball back. Ambrose and Pat Turner each hit a pair of free throws in the last 40 seconds for the final margin.

"They took better shots than we did down the stretch," said Smithsburg coach Dave Morris. "They made it to the foul line and we didn't. I told them we played pretty good, but not good enough to win. We keep improving, and we'll be satisfied when we win games like this."

Still, the Leopards gave Middletown all it could handle - something Leber and Ambrose expected coming in.

"They scrap as hard as anybody. We knew it was going to be that way," Leber said.

"We don't underestimate them. They have good ball-handlers, and (Chip) Kershner is outstanding inside. He can play," Ambrose said. "They have a solid team."

Todd Stanzione added 16 points, and Brad Conn had six assists and five steals for the Knights, who played without leading rebounder D.J. Costello. Bey had 13 points and Kershner had 12 for Smithsburg.

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