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North rolls Leopards

February 13, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG - The packed bleachers would have suggested to a newcomer that this was a classic matchup of two powerhouse basketball teams heading toward the playoff stretch.

The play on the court would not have.

The North Hagerstown boys basketball team ran early and dominated the boards totally to easily handle Smithsburg 71-45 in a Monocacy Valley Athletic League game Wednesday.

That the Hubs decided to take all the suspense out of this intriguing rematch of two teams that went to the wire just three weeks ago was a little surprising to both North coach Tim McNamee and Leopards coach Eric Gerber.

The surprise wasn't as much what happened as how it happened.

North (15-4, 12-4) opened up a 24-6 lead, wowing the crowd with breathtaking athleticism that looked practically effortless. North's Cole Bellon brought the crowd to its feet with a breakaway slam that rattled the glass and seemingly the Leopards' confidence just five minutes into the game.

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Smithsburg (13-6, 10-6), winner of six of its last seven outings, struggled from the start, going 1 of 11 from the field over the same seven-minute stretch that the Hubs put together a 20-0 run.

"We had an awful start offensively and North shot so well," Gerber said. "We had the decent looks we wanted, but we just couldn't hit the shots.

"When you start rough against a quality team like North, well ... that can take you out of sync pretty quick."

By halftime, the Hubs had a 37-19 lead.

"We have had various individuals step up and play for us this year," McNamee said. "But tonight, everybody contributed to this win. Honestly, that is the first time that has happened this season."

The teams played evenly through the second quarter, but the Hubs set a tone that the Leopards found difficult to overcome. Smithsburg's front court was in a troublesome matchup game under the boards with North's Bellon, Marshall Branch and Bernard Harris. The Leopards struggled to get second opportunities at their own basket and gave up too many chances to the Hubs.

North outrebounded the Leopards just about 2-1 in the first half, and by game's end, the Hubs held a 46-26 advantage.

Harris and Branch each had 17 points, while Bellon muscled in 13.

"Smithsburg has a very good team," McNamee said. "Our kids really came to play, though. It is the best we have played all year."

Ryan Marquiss led the Leopards with 12 points.




No. 5 North 71, No. 10 Smithsburg 45


NORTH HAGERSTOWN (71)

Spruce 3, Clayborn 4, Harris 17, Gantt 11, Brown 2, Bellon 13, Robinson 2, Branch 17. TOTALS 28 13-14 71.

SMITHSBURG (45)

Crawford 3, Hunt 6, Spessard 3, Luipersbeck 1, Brown 6, Gouff 7, Fay 3, Marquiss 12, Steelman 4. TOTALS 16 10-17 45.

N. Hagerstown 24 13 17 17 - 71

Smithsburg 6 13 12 14 - 45

Three-point goals - North Hagerstown 2 (Spruce, Harris), Smithsburg 2 (Hunt 2). Technical foul - Smithsburg bench. JV - North Hagerstown, 44-41.

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