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Willison can't be stopped

March 18, 2006|By DAN KAUFFMAN

No girls basketball team has been able to stop Jennifer Willison all season, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the Hancock senior couldn't be stopped in Friday's inaugural High Rock Roundball Classic girls all-star game.

Willison powered her way to 21 points, 30 rebounds - that's not a typo - four blocks and MVP honors, helping Team South rally from a 28-20 halftime deficit to defeat Team North 64-52 at North Hagerstown High School.

"I loved it. I finally got to play with girls I've been playing against all season," said Willison, who said Friday's game was the highlight of her prep career. "I think this is the best thing by far. We haven't done anything like this, and it was great playing with all these girls."

Boonsboro point guard Sarah Keyser scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half, pairing with Willison to lead the determined Team South squad back. Team North's offense sputtered against Team South's full-court pressure defense.

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"We knew we wanted to win, and we had to come out strong in the first five minutes (of the second half)," Willison said. "Sarah did a lot for us. She came out strong in the second half."

"I just told them to get out there and pick up the intensity, and they did it," said Team South coach Harry Barnett of Broadfording, who was much more animated on the sideline in the second half, and that emotion rubbed off on the players.

"(Sarah) sees the court well and she came out aggressive. The pressure of her, (Broadfording's) Tina (Conner) and the other girls changed the course of the game," Barnett said.

Conner had 11 steals and 10 rebounds for Team South.

Smithsburg teammates Teonna Jewell and Tara Bywaters led Team North with 11 points each, and St. Maria Goretti guard Erin Haney had nine.

Sixteen of the 19 players who participated in the game scored at least two points.

"It was fun. It seemed like there was more pressure just to get everyone in," said Team North coach Bill Fowkes of Smithsburg. "I'm happy nine of our 11 girls scored. Our goal was to play team ball, and I think our girls did a good job of that."

n Hancock's Erin Smith, whose three-point play with 1:22 left helped Team South ice the victory, survived shootouts in both the first round and the semifinals, then sank the money ball for the decisive two points to edge Clear Spring's Megan Blickenstaff 6-5 in the finals of the 3-point shootout.

"It was a lot easier as I went on," said Smith, who, like the other 11 contestants, had to get used to the grab-and-release technique of getting the balls off the rack. "My nerves were awful. Thank God I pulled through."

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