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Leopards' seniors star in their own show

February 11, 2006|By CHRIS CARTER

SMITHSBURG -

Perhaps things would have been different if it were Sophomore Night - or even Junior Night - during Friday night's MVAL Antietam matchup between Williamsport and Smithsburg.

But it was Senior Night, which made it Leopards Night. Smithsburg's five senior starters topped Williamsport's three sophomores and two juniors and the Leopards withstood the relentless Wildcats for a 49-37 victory.

Tara Bywaters led the Smithsburg seniors with 19 points, while Teonna Jewell had 11 and Laura Sudec added eight to go with 11 rebounds. Kenzie Bowen was saddled with foul trouble early, but scored all four of her points in the fourth quarter and Molly Powell went scoreless, but had five assists and came up with a pair of steals.

"This was possibly the last chance for the seniors to play Williamsport," said Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes. "They were up for the game and they all did a nice job."

The seniors were each presented with a bouquet of flowers before the game alongside their parents, and that emotion seemed to overflow into the game early. Bywaters scored the first seven points of the game as Smithsburg jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first 3 minutes. A Jewell jumper at the buzzer gave the Leopards a 16-4 advantage after the first period.

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It took 6 1/2 minutes for Smithsburg (13-5, 9-3) to score again, giving Williamsport (6-11, 4-7) every opportunity to cut into the lead. However, the Wildcats shaved just five points off the deficit, which was not nearly enough as the Leopards got hot again, scoring the final eight points before halftime to take a 24-9 lead.

"We just weren't connecting (during the drought). Not a lot of offensive boards and not a lot second chances," Bywaters said. "I definitely thought I needed to step up and make a play."

Bywaters did just that as she was left wide open inside the right elbow and swished a 15-footer, followed by a pair of free throws on the next possession. Jewell again capped the period with a buzzer-beater to give Smithsburg its biggest lead at 15 points.

"The first quarter killed us," said Williamsport coach Chris Malott. "We started to get better but we just can't get down 24-9."

Smithsburg opened the second half with back-to-back baskets by Sudec and Cara Jordan to increase the lead to 28-9 - the point at which Williamsport finally made a run.

The Wildcats went on a 15-2 run to close the gap to 30-24. Two straight baskets by Morgan Smith took the Leopards to the sideline for its second timeout in 2 1/2 minutes.

The break interrupted Williamsport's rally and Smithburg found its shot again, scoring the final six points of the third quarter to regain a double-digit lead, 36-24.

The Wildcats cut the lead to seven once more, but never got closer as Smithsburg went 9-for-11 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. The Leopards finished 17 of 20 from the foul line for the game, compared to just 9 of 20 for Williamsport.

"We had a good 20 minutes and a horrible 12 minutes," Malott said. "The sign of our maturity is that earlier this year if we're down 24-9 we would have given up. Now we came back and made a game out of it."

Morgan Smith and Lindsey Smith each finished with 10 points for the Wildcats.

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