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Leopards use pressure to rub away Goretti

December 14, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Monday night's girls basketball game between Smithsburg and St. Maria Goretti boiled down to two pressure points.

The Leopards created the pressure. The younger Gaels boiled over because of it.

Smithsburg shook off a frustrating first five minutes and shook Goretti up with a sustained full-court press, creating 36 turnovers and outscoring the Gaels, 44-20 in the middle two quarters to coast home with a 56-43 victory at the Gael Center.

"That's how we want to play, is up-tempo, pressure and generate offense off defense," Leopards coach Bill Fowkes said. "We played a lot of people and wore them down in the middle quarters."

Things started out well for Goretti (4-4). Tasha Deneen opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and Sarah Spierenburg got inside for a basket and a foul, finishing the three-point play for a 6-0 lead. The Gaels clung to an 8-6 lead after the first quarter, holding Smithsburg (2-1) to 3-for-10 shooting and forcing 10 turnovers - though Goretti itself committed 13.

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"The first quarter looked like we just picked up a basketball for the first time," Fowkes said. "We were totally out of sync."

Goretti held a four-point lead three times in the second quarter, but the Leopards' pressure started taking hold and a 9-1 run to close the quarter gave Smithsburg a 30-22 lead at halftime.

The Leopards also got their inside game going, with Laura Sudec scoring 11 of her game-high 18 points in the quarter and Tara Bywaters adding seven of her 17.

"She has played three strong games for us now," Fowkes said of Sudec, a junior in her first year on the varsity. "She gives us a force inside ... and she's only going to get better with time."

Smithsburg's 14-2 run to start the third quarter put Goretti in an inescapable hole, as the Leopards' suffocating defense forced 12 more turnovers in the period.

"Youth and inexperience. It's very difficult," said Gaels coach Marie McEwen. "They have a lot of good skills and do a lot of good things, but then they panic. The concept of (handling) pressure is difficult for them."

Deneen finished with nine points, Jessica Myers had eight and Spierenburg added seven for Goretti.

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