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Wildcats live, die by their foul shooting

December 28, 2005|by CHRIS CARTER /Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSPORT - Williamsport girls basketball coach Chris Malott described his team's performance from the free throw line Tuesday afternoon as a "catch-22."

The Wildcats missed nearly half of their free throws, but went to the line often enough to notch a 54-47 win over Greencastle-Antrim in opening-round action of the 25th annual Richard E. Doub Classic.

Williamsport advances to the championship game this afternoon at 3 to take on Beall, which knocked off Broadfording, 45-21. Greencastle returns to play the Lions in the consolation game at 1.

The Wildcats (2-3) hit just 19 of 37 free throws, but made 5 of 6 in the fourth quarter to hold off a late rush by Greencastle (3-4).

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"It was a catch-22," Malott said. "Our free throws killed us, then they saved us."

The Blue Devils trailed by 17 points after halftime, but trimmed the margin to four behind the charge of Chelsea Wolff, who scored seven points and made three steals in the second half. The comeback attempt went sour when Williamsport's Morgan Smith hit three foul shots and sister Lindsey made two in the final two minutes to ice the win.

"They handled the pressure a lot better at the end," Malott said. "Morgan and Lindsey came up big for us."

Lindsey had a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds, while Morgan added 13 and eight.

"If Morgan and Lindsey show up, then I like our chances," Malott said. "When they combine to score about 30 to 35 points per game, we're probably going to win, or at least be close."

Eleven of the 32 combined points from the Smith sisters came from the charity stripe. Greencastle was called for 10 fouls - including a technical on coach Tara Runkles - in the first 4 minutes, 35 seconds of the third quarter to put the Wildcats in the double bonus. Williamsport had not been charged with a foul. Blue Devils starters Kris Root and Jade Dunour fouled out in the third quarter, followed by Emily Wissinger in the fourth.

"When you have 10 fouls and the other team doesn't have any, it's in the numbers that you're probably not going to win," Runkles said. "I guess we're just used to playing in Pennsylvania where they don't call the fouls so easily."

Williamsport went to the line 12 times in the third quarter but made only four, allowing the Blue Devils to creep back into the game.

"If we make a couple more of those free throws, it's a much more comfortable game," said Malott. "We're about a 50 percent team from the foul line and that's been our Achilles' heel."

Jess Ellis came off the bench to score 10 points for Williamsport. She made two buckets in the fourth quarter that ended a five-minute drought and kept the Wildcats' eight-point cushion intact.

Wolff led the Blue Devils with 13 points, while Wissinger added nine.

- In the opening game, Beall held Broadfording to one first-quarter point and led 21-8 at halftime. The Mountaineers cruised in the second half, led by Kaitlin Greig's 13 points. Tina Conner led Broadfording with eight points.

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