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Keeping focused - Leopards avoid looking ahead

February 24, 1999

Smithsburg vs. SouthBy DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




It would have been easy for the Smithsburg girls basketball team to look past South Hagerstown on Tuesday night. After all, the No. 4 Leopards couldn't win the Monocacy Valley Athletic League title, and they already knew their playoff path.

Instead, Smithsburg stared down the Rebels 56-37, sending it into Monday night's Class 1A West quarterfinal on a huge high.

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"We weren't looking ahead," Smithsburg coach Jimmy Powell said. "This means as much to us as the playoffs. Every game is important, and the girls believe it."

Smithsburg (16-4, 14-4) raced to a 21-4 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to a blistering transition game. The Leopards only took one non-layup and finished 9-for-11 on field goals in the period.

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As the margin continued to widen, the Leopards' starters headed for the bench as Powell allowed himself to peek into the future.

"It was a good chance to play our second string," Powell said. "We also didn't want any freak injuries or anything like that, so we had it in mind from halftime."

After halftime, South thought the ball had a mind of its own. The Rebels (4-18, 2-16) were already down 35-12, then went 0-for-10 in the third quarter to find themselves down by 38 heading into the final frame.

"We're young and don't have a lot of experience, but there's so much more that we should have done," South coach Ann Whisner said. "We'd shoot, they'd get the rebound and break long. We even called timeout to try to stop it, and they still did it."

The Rebels hope to have a case of selective amnesia when it comes to Tuesday night's game. South plays its first-round playoff game at Northern Garrett on Friday night, and a win sets up a quarterfinal matchup with Beall. Another win would likely put it back up against ... Smithsburg.

"We're glad we're where we are," Whisner quipped. "The only downfall is, we might as well be taking a weekend trip as far as we have to go."

Smithsburg, on the other hand, isn't going anywhere this weekend, thanks to a first-round bye. But that won't stop the Leopards from taking a glimpse at travel plans for the state finals in Baltimore.

"I know it sounds cliche, but now every game can be your last one," Powell said. "We want to make sure we make that last as long as we can."

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