North wins Antietam battle

December 18, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

Cara Thompson showed the instincts of a boxer on Friday.

She was still standing at the final bell, which may have been the best thing she did all night for the North Hagerstown girls basketball team.

Thompson scored a game-high 16 points, but became invaluable to the Hubs as a calming influence while distributing the ball to help North counterpunch for a 45-35 victory over Williamsport in the MVAL Antietam opener for both teams.

"(Thompson) has a settling effect on the team," North coach Barry Brown said. "The other players get their confidence up when she's in the game."


It showed the most as the Hubs (2-2, 1-0) began losing hold of a game they led from the opening tap. Thompson went to the bench with her fourth foul with 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter and North leading, 35-20.

Shortly after, Chelsea Clark, North's main threat inside, notched her fourth foul with 7:47 remaining and went to the bench. Williamsport began to whittle away at North's lead.

"I told the girls before the game if we could hold Thompson and Clark under 30, we had a good chance to win," Williamsport coach Chris Malott said. "When those two got in foul trouble it got us back into the game, but it halted."

The Wildcats (1-4, 0-1) clawed back to within 39-27 when Thompson and Clark re-entered the game at 5:43 remaining. Clark scored a basket before fouling out at the 4:45 mark.

Thompson played tentatively, trying to avoid the final foul, but came to North's rescue when Williamsport closed to within 41-35 with 2:40 remaining. Thompson took over the main ball-handling duties, which led to passes to set up back-to-back 18-foot jumpers by Tiffany Jordan 20 seconds apart for the final points of the game.

"She had the two big shots ... they were huge," Malott said. "They got them when they needed them and it took the wind out of our sails."

It was another game when a slow start cost the Wildcats in the end. North jumped out to a 6-0 lead while Williamsport missed its first eight shots before getting on the scoreboard.

North took a 9-2 lead when Denicia Fulton hit a 15-foot jumper with 1:41 remaining in the quarter as the Hubs were in command the entire game.

"I think we struggled from the opening tap," Brown said. "We didn't make the shots we usually make and if we would have, it would have added to the girls' confidence. I'm just glad we got the lead early in the game, that was the key. We expected them to battle back - we know the kind of girls they have - but we did an adequate job defensively."

North led 24-14 at the half and by as many as 17 (37-20) after Thompson sat down. Williamsport used a 15-4 run, keyed by seven points from Lindsey Smith, over a 5:33 span to move within 41-35 before Jordan buried her two key jumpers to end the threat.

Fulton finished with eight points for North, while Smith had eight and Ashley Kunkleman, who did a creditable job at point guard, had seven points for Williamsport.

"Cara is so unselfish and Jordan hit the jumpers when we needed them," Brown said. "It was ugly, but we'll take the win."

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