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Knights FTs sink Leopards down stretch

December 09, 2000

Knights FTs sink Leopards down stretch



By DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer


SMITHSBURG - Middletown girls basketball coach Kara Nelson wasn't too thrilled with facing Smithsburg in the season opener for both teams Friday night. Smithsburg coach Jimmy Powell, on the other hand, couldn't have been happier.

No one's attitude changed after the No. 5 Knights blew all of a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, then hit seven of their last eight free throws to escape with a 63-58 victory in the .

"I'd have rather played someone else," Nelson said. "It'd have been a lot easier to ... find out what we need to work on."

All the Knights needed to wait for was their patience. No. 7 Smithsburg's go-for-broke pressure sent the Leopards into as much as a 15-point deficit, but it also hoisted them to the brink of victory late.

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"Getting Middletown first, this is a great measuring stick of where we are," Powell said. "They're one of the best this year, and they've been at the top of the MVAL since ... gosh, I can't remember a time they didn't win it. With this, I'm encouraged."

Middletown stole that emotion in the first half, racing to a 19-5 lead. Smithsburg, on the other hand, couldn't crack the Knights on offense. The Leopards didn't get a bucket out of their set offense until the third quarter.

"Throughout it all, at Middletown, we've always prided ourselves on defense," Nelson said. "I was real pleased with what we did in the half-court set. But the turnovers came because of their pressure and they converted to get back in it."

Middletown had a 44-29 lead with 1:20 to go in the third and, after a 9-0 Smithsburg run, pushed it back to 53-40 lead with 5 minutes to go. Then the Leopards turned it on, turning over Middletown five straight times - 27 times for the game - and rattling off an 11-1 run.

"I'll tell you why we got back into this - it's the deepest team we've ever had," Powell said. "Our kids face this kind of situation all the time in practice against the kids sitting on the bench. That's why we didn't panic."

Smithsburg completed its comeback when Mel Whitt's 3-point play tied it at 56-56, and two Kim Waeber free throws and a basket by Eariel Gholson tied it again at 58-58. Anna Halse hit two more free throws to give Middletown a 60-58 lead, but Katy Powell couldn't answer, as her two free throws rolled around the rim and fell out. Halse essentially closed it with two more free throws.

Waeber finished with 17 points, while Katie Moore had 12 points and nine rebounds for Middletown. For Smithsburg, Powell and Gholson both had 18 and Whitt had 11.

"I'm not happy with how we played all the way around, but we won and we found out right away what our weaknesses are," Nelson said. "But (Smithsburg) has great athletes and they work hard. They took it to us and they're going to get a lot better."

Middletown 63, Smithsburg 58


MIDDLETOWN (63)

House 7, Shafer 5, Waeber 17, Halse 4, Costello 9, Mannis 3, Warner 4, Moore 12, Pfau 2. Totals 25-50 12-21 63.

SMITHSBURG (58)

Higgins 5, Stouffer 3, Powell 18, Whitt 11, Feiser 3, Gholson 18. Totals 17-53 20-31 58.

Middletown13131819-63

Smithsburg4151623-58

Three-point goals - Middletown 1 (Waeber), Smithsburg 4 (Stouffer, Powell 2, Gholson). Fouled Out - Mannis, Whitt, Higgins. JV - Middletown, 59-18 (M: Amber Halian, 18).

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