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Hubs girls overcome adversity to defeat Leopards

January 04, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Defensive struggles are rarely pretty, and Tuesday night's MVAL Antietam girls basketball battle between North Hagerstown and Smithsburg did nothing to buck the trend.

That's just fine with Hubs coach Barry Brown, who watched his team pull out a 39-35 victory over the Leopards.

"A win's a win," Brown said. "It may not be pretty, but when you win a game you can certainly be proud of that."

Both defenses played well. North (4-3, 1-0) held Smithsburg (4-2, 0-1) to 12-for-45 shooting (26.7 percent) and forced 30 turnovers; The Leopards held the Hubs to 16-for-50 shooting (32 percent) and forced 30 turnovers of their own.

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Ultimately, North did just a little bit more offensively, led by Shawayna Morel (13 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) and Brooke Powell (10 points, eight rebounds, four steals).

Morel and Powell scored four points each in the Hubs' opening 10-0 run, though the Leopards rallied back behind Tara Bywaters to tie the game at 15-15 at halftime. Bywaters scored nine of her team-high 12 points in the comeback.

North managed to reclaim the advantage in the third quarter and kept it between three and seven points all the way to the end. Morel's end-to-end drive and layup with 40 seconds left gave the Hubs a 37-31 lead, and Veronica Wheeler made a foul shot with 3.5 seconds left for a 39-35 lead, clinching the victory.

"I think our tough early-season schedule paid off in the second half," Brown said. "Our kids have been in so many dogfights, they had that to draw from."

"Our inability to attack their 1-3-1 zone in the last three minutes took away our chance to win the game," Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said. "We had three turnovers without a shot. ... You hold a team to 39 points and that gives you a great chance to win. You just have to put it in offensively."

The Hubs are carrying on without their leader.

Cara Thompson, a junior guard who did a little of everything for North, suffered a torn ACL playing against Richard Montgomery on Dec. 28 and will require surgery, knocking her out of action for the rest of the season.

"It was kind of a freakish accident," Brown said. "There was no contact. She was dribbling up the floor, pivoted and heard a pop. It seemed like it was one of those things that was going to happen eventually.

"The silver lining is she has a lot of time to rehab, and nowadays, you can come back from ACL injuries and play as well as you were playing before. She was getting a lot of D-I looks. It will be a challenge for her but we're all in her corner. It will be a great story when she comes back."

Thompson scored in double figures in four of North's first five games - including a 34-point, 10-rebound, eight-steal effort at Tuscarora that puts her at the top of the list for Tri-State girls single-game scoring performances so far this season.

"I think she was not only proving herself to be a good local player, but one of the top players in the state with the schedule we were playing," Brown said. "It's a big blow for us, but we only have one choice and that's to do the best we can do. I love all the kids I have and I think we're going to be able to move on.

"For three years, the ball's been in Cara's hands most of the time. We have a bunch of kids who can step up, and right now it's time for them to step up."

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