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Leopards use rally to turn back 'Cats

March 07, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Smithsburg senior Katy Powell offset a 6-for-21 shooting night with one timely play when the Leopards needed it most.

Powell's steal and layup following a Williamsport defensive rebound gave Smithsburg the lead for good with 1 minute, 8 seconds remaining, and the Leopards earned a ticket to their sixth Class 1A West regional final in eight years with a come-from-behind 48-43 victory over the Wildcats at North Hagerstown on Thursday.

"I was basically trying to get a jump ball," Powell said of her reactionary play under the Williamsport basket late in the fourth quarter. "I got a hand on the pass, got the ball and got the layup."

"She's the heart and soul of our team," Leopards coach Jimmy Powell said. "She was frustrated, but down the stretch she played like a senior."

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Smithsburg (16-6) will face Southern Garrett Saturday at 2 p.m. in the regional final at Fort Hill.

Williamsport - which has only two seniors on its 10-player roster - wilted down the stretch, blowing a 39-32 lead in the final six minutes. The Wildcats' final field goal came on a Lindsey Plotner jumper with 5:54 left - the last of her 17 points.

"You've got to convert on the offensive end, and that's been a problem for us all year," Williamsport coach Kevin Murphy said. "We've had stretches where we have trouble scoring."

Plotner paced Williamsport (12-9) early, operating inside as the Wildcats took a 7-4 lead with 2:35 left in the first quarter and didn't trail until Powell's heroics late.

Were it not for Tara Knable, Smithsburg may not have stayed close enough to make the rally late. Knable had 19 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks, keeping the Leopards within striking distance until Powell (18 points, five rebounds, four steals, four blocks) gave them the lead.

"Sometimes when they shut me down, somebody has to step up, and Tara did that tonight," Powell said.

Smithsburg made 8 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter - with Laura Best scoring her only two points on both ends of a 1-and-1 for a 45-42 lead with 32 seconds left - and the Leopards finished 15-for-21 from the line.

Williamsport went 4-for-8 from the line in the final eight minutes and finished 8-for-17.

"We were not real good from the foul line, when points were at a premium," Murphy said.

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