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Knights easily defeat Leopards

January 20, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - All work and no play makes the No. 3 Middletown basketball team a bunch of dull girls.

After nine days of all practice and no games, the Knights were more than ready to start shining against visiting No. 7 Smithsburg on Friday night.

"The girls had cabin fever. They get tired of playing each other in practice all the time," said Middletown coach Kara Nelson. "They were ready to go."

That's an understatement, as the battle for sole possession of second place in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League never materialized into much of fight.

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Middletown (6-2, 4-1), relentless with its full-court man-to-man defense, was quick to capitalize on the offensive end. The Knights led 10-0 after two minutes, 24-6 at the end of the first quarter and 42-11 at the half on their way to a convincing 68-35 victory.

"Defensive pressure, that's what we've been going on all year," said Nelson. "And we were really looking to get out and run."

Middletown - which finished 30 of 66 (46 percent) from the field - got scoring from eight players, including all five starters in the first quarter.

Any hope Smithsburg (6-4, 4-3) had of a dramatic second-half comeback was quickly extinguished as th Knights scored the first 13 points of the third quarter to go up, 55-11.

"We knew we had to come out after halftime and play with the same intensity," said Knights point guard Allie Shannon, who scored nine of her 11 points in the first-half run. "We just pushed the ball up the court and beat them up the court. Everyone did awesome."

So awesome that even the Middletown players seemed surprised afterward.

"We weren't expecting it to be that easy at all," said Amber Holian, who led the Knights with 14 points and six rebounds.

The key she said was keeping Smithsburg star guard Katy Powell in check. While Powell - the Tri-State's leading scorer (23.6 ppg) - still scored a game-high 15 points, only five came in the first half as the Knights pulled away for good.

"We knew that Katy Powell was their go-to girl, and we really wanted to shut her down," said Holian. "Fifteen points, that was good."

Freshman Kristen Waeber also posted double scoring figures for the Knights with 10 points, while Jeannette Sutton had nine and Jill Martin and Gretchen Steger each added eight.

"Middletown is obviously very good," said Smithsburg coach Jimmy Powell. "When a team shoots that well against you ... it's tough to beat anybody. That happens to you some nights.

"It snowballed a little bit, but I give our kids credit. They hung in there."

The Leopards outscored the Knights 22-9 over the final nine minutes, and Powell said his team will just try to build on that.

"It's tough to find a ray of hope when you're down 40 points, but we bounced back in the fourth quarter for the next game," said Powell. "We have a good team and we'll bounce back. It was a good learning experience. This will make us better."

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