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All Smith does is all Cats need

December 13, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

WILLIAMSPORT - The way Williamsport girls basketball coach Chris Malott sees it, once junior Morgan Smith stopped trying to do it all, she did all it took for the Wildcats to win.

Smith, who at 6-foot-1 is listed as a forward but played much of the fourth quarter at point guard, scored 11 of her 17 points in the final 5 minutes, 30 seconds, leading the Wildcats to a 48-45 victory over Francis Scott Key on Tuesday night.

"For four quarters Saturday at Chambersburg and three quarters here, I think she was trying to make a 10-point basket," Malott said. "She was trying to force it and do way too much. I told her to relax and let the game come to her."

"I wasn't very happy with my beginning-of-the-game effort," Smith said. "At halftime, I knew I had to pick it up."

Smith made a pair of baskets in the third quarter to help Williamsport (1-1) take the lead after a 17-17 halftime tie, but it was her three-point play on an offensive rebound with 5:26 left in the fourth quarter that got her and the Wildcats in gear down the stretch.

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"(The three-point play) made me more confident," said Smith, who attacked the basket in transition for three more field goals in the final minutes, the last giving Williamsport a 45-37 lead with 1:22 to play. "You basically had to take it and go in strong against their defense. You couldn't go in there undecided."

Smith scored Williamsport's final points on two free throws with 32 seconds left for a 48-40 lead. FSK (1-1) made two baskets in the final seconds, including a 3-pointer just before the final buzzer, to make the final score close.

If Smith was the catalyst for Williamsport's late drive to victory, Leah Mellott was the glue that kept the Wildcats from disintegrating before the final stretch. Mellott made three 3-pointers and tied Smith for game-high scoring honors with 17 points of her own.

"Coach always depends on seniors to lead the team," Mellott said. "(FSK) kind of let off me and went to Lindsey (Smith) and Morgan. I had open looks and I took them."

"Thank goodness for Leah," Malott said. "She was our savior tonight. She wears No. 4 for J.J. Redick, and we call that play Redick for her."

Lindsey Smith had seven points and eight rebounds for Williamsport, which made 19 of 29 foul shots. FSK managed to make just 7 of 18 from the stripe.

The first half was a sloppy affair, with both teams combining for 10 field goals and 45 turnovers - 24 for FSK, 21 for Williamsport. The Eagles committed 18 more turnovers in the second half, while the Wildcats made 15 more.

"We have to take care of the ball," Malott said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist, if you turn the ball over, you're not taking shots, and if you're not taking shots, you don't score. ... We picked up our defensive intensity, and that's what carried us through. We want to try to break, but the defense has to start that."

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