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Cougars win behind lesser lights

February 07, 2001|By DAN SPEARS

Cougars win behind lesser lights



Teammates' key run supports Benjamin's 33 for Catoctin



WILLIAMSPORT - For three and a half quarters Tuesday, Cyndi Benjamin hauled the Catoctin girls basketball team on her back against Williamsport. For the four minutes she couldn't, her teammates went and won the game.

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Benjamin finished with a career-high 33 points, including 20 straight between the first and third quarters, but three teammates were the spark in a late third-quarter run that pushed the Cougars ahead for good in a 59-52 victory in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

Combined with Walkersville's 65-42 win over Smithsburg, the Cougars (10-6, 10-3) stand alone in second place in the MVAL, two games behind Middletown.

"They're comfortable with each other now, and that's important," Catoctin coach Tracey Kelley said. "A couple of times tonight, we didn't have the set offense going - they know each other enough now that we can get away with freelancing now and then."

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The No. 10 Wildcats (11-6, 7-6) held a 26-20 lead with one minute left in the first half when coach Curtis Graff pulled Brooke Weimer, who had given her team the lead with 12 second-quarter points. Benjamin responded with seven points before the buzzer to grab the lead.

"Hindsight is always 100 percent," Graff said with a shrug. "She was pretty tired, and ... when you've got a little cushion, you want to play with it. It didn't work out."

Williamsport grabbed back a 34-31 in a sloppy start to the second half, and Benjamin sat down for about five minutes to calm down because of a fever. That's when Danielle Atkins hit two 3s, Jess Valentine's drop step led to a lay-in and Monica Cherry hit another 3 in an 11-2 run for a 42-36 lead.

"I love having them," an exhausted and hoarse Benjamin said afterward. "There's four of us that can shoot the 3. I know if we get it to them and they're open, that shot is going in."

"They made the big shots when they needed them," Graff said. "Bejamin had a heckuva game, but (Cherry and Atkins) hit the 3s on us. ... Until then we were fine, and suddenly you're down six."

Benjamin also had 14 rebounds and finished it off by matching Weimer - who finished with 28 points - point for point the rest of the way. They are the two leading scorers in the league, but Benjamin kept her spot atop that listing, and moved the Cougars up another long-awaited step in the league table.

"This is very nice. We've shocked a lot of people, but not really ourselves," Benjamin said. "Last year, we lost games like this by three or four points.

"This year, we're winning. And that feels real good."

Catoctin 59

No. 10 Williamsport 52

CATOCTIN (59)

Benjamin 33, Cherry 7, Williams 2, Valentine 6, Atkins 7, Eyler 4. Totals 20-55 14-19 59.

WILLIAMSPORT (52)

Miller 4, Taylor 4, Pulieri 4, Sanders 4, Ross 8, Weimer 28. Totals 20-46 8-9 52.

Catoctin11161517-59

Williamsport8181016-52

Three-point goals-Catoctin 5 (Benjamin 2, Cherry, Atkins 2), Williamsport 4 (Weimer 4). Fouled Out-Ross.

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