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Catoctin presses past South

January 29, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Catoctin girls basketball coach Tracey Kelley and South Hagerstown coach Patty Leazier are working toward different goals.

A year after losing seven seniors - and all of her starters - to graduation, Kelley is molding her Cougars into shape for a run at a top-three finish in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

Meanwhile, Leazier has her eyes set on South's future. Though the Rebels' latest loss - a 57-27 defeat Tuesday at the hands of the Cougars - makes them 1-11 (0-9 in the MVAL), Leazier says the team has come a long way since she took control of the program three years ago.

"If you saw the difference between where we were at when I started and where we are now, I don't think there's any comparison," Leazier said. "A year ago, we were down 20, 30, 40 points to every team we played. Now, it's just Middletown, Walkersville and Catoctin."

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Catoctin (6-4, 6-3) figured to be in a rebuilding year, but instead has become one of the league's most surprising teams, battling Smithsburg and Williamsport for third place.

The Cougars play each once more, having lost to the Wildcats and defeated the Leopards.

"Right now we're 6-3 in the conference, and we never expected that," Kelley said. "We're peaking right now, and this is the time of year when you want to."

Against South, Catoctin used a full-court press in the first quarter to force 15 turnovers in the first eight minutes, and turned runs of 6-0, 8-0 and 6-0 into a 20-6 lead. Heidi Stull anchored the press, getting seven steals and scoring 17 of her 19 points in the first half.

"She knows her points will come off of her defense," Kelley said. "Some players score with jump shots and in the offense, but she get hers with steals, layups and offensive rebounds. She works hard out there on defense."

South tried to make a game of it in the second quarter, cutting the deficit to 26-15 late in the period. But Stull's 3-pointer ended the first half with an exclamation point for the Cougars, and the Rebels managed just four field goals in the second half.

"I'm not saying we would have beaten them, but I think it would have been closer than 30 points if we make some shots in the second half," Leazier said.

Holding a lead, Kelley gave minutes to reserves Sara Diercks and Jessica Blickenstaff. Diercks had all six of her points in the first half; Blickenstaff all seven of hers in the second half.

"The press was at the top of our list (of things to work on), and also getting our younger players some minutes," Kelley said. "We've had situations where our starters get in foul trouble, and we need our younger kids to get experience."

Shamika Slater, a junior, and Jamie Fowler, a sophomore, had 10 points each to lead South.

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