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Leopards punch meal ticket

January 21, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG -- On a non-school day due to teacher conferences and a basketball game at night forcing a different weekday routine, the Smithsburg girls might have been thinking breakfast at game time.

Once the body temperature kicked into high gear, the Leopards started thinking meat-and-potatoes and went on to a 67-46 MVAL Antietam victory over Brunswick on Tuesday night that moved the Leopards to the .500 mark.

"I hate weekday games without school because it takes the girls out of their routine," Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said. "I almost called each of them today to make sure they were up and moving around."

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The concern lasted throughout the first half as Brunswick (2-9, 2-2) grabbed a 28-26 halftime lead when Diane Wigfield hit a 3-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded.

Brunswick had wiped out a 24-18 Smithsburg lead on a 7-0 run and was holding its own against the Leopards despite the Railroaders' top player, junior Leah McCallum, being sidelined with three personal fouls.

Railroaders coach Bill Martin took a chance with the lead by keeping McCallum on the bench in the third period, but Smithsburg quickly began thinking of its meal entree with lots of gravy.

Fowkes employed a half-court trapping defense and the Leopards (6-6, 3-1) forced five Brunswick turnovers in the first 70 seconds of the third period to forge a 33-28 lead.

Brunswick rallied back for a 34-33 lead with 2:57 left in the third on a basket by Kristen Spencer, but Smithsburg got full taste of its dinner with an 8-0 run which led to a 41-34 lead with 42 seconds to play.

"Last week against North Hagerstown, Leah had three fouls and I played her right away," Martin said. "I thought if we could stay close and get to the fourth period we could be more aggressive. Leah's most of our offense, but we didn't handle the ball in the fourth period."

McCallum eventually fouled out with 5:33 left in the game, and before long Smithsburg had pulled out to a 56-38 margin.

Smithsburg center Tara Knable consumed the Brunswick interior in the second half with 13 of her career-high 21 points (8 of 16 shooting) and Teonna Jewell finished with 16 points.

Smithsburg hit 20 of 30 from the charity stripe including 11 of 15 in the final period compared to Brunswick's 10 of 19 for the game.

"I'll take 67 percent anytime," Fowkes said. "We've been working on foul shooting and that can make a difference."

Knable added seven rebounds and Tara Bywaters had 15 points for Smithsburg.

McCallum had 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Brianne Walters had 11 points and six rebounds for the Railroaders.

"It's good to get to the .500 mark," Fowkes said. "Now if we can just cut down on turnovers (17 to Brunswick's 23), maybe we can take off from here."

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