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Good things come to Gaels who wait

December 29, 2006|by CURT HORNBECKER/Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG - St. Maria Goretti's girls basketball players learned a lesson on Thursday night

It was "Be patient."

The Gaels learned the lesson well, but it took 24 minutes for it to sink in.

After committing 25 turnovers in the first three periods against a scrappy Smithsburg defense, the Gaels were finally able to get their inside game working to escape with a 37-34 win in the Pap Draper Classic semifinals.

"I knew it was going to be a slow tempo," said Gaels coach Todd Rideout. "I thought they'd have to keep (the score) in the low 30s to have a good chance to win."

The victory propels Goretti (8-2) into the championship game tonight against Howard, a 49-27 winner over Fort Hill in the other semifinal.

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"I basically just got really angry," said Goretti center Sarah Spierenberg, who scored eight of her game-high 13 during the Gaels' fourth-quarter surge.

The Gaels' leading scorer had been held to just three shots and five points by the Leopards' sagging defense in the first 24 minutes.

But Smithsburg's foul trouble, and Goretti's patience, allowed Spierenberg a little more room in the paint and she took advantage.

"We got into a little foul trouble," said Smithsburg coach Eddie Hargreaves. "(Spierenberg) was working hard all night, but she didn't hurt us until the end."

Five points from Cara Jordan kept it close down the stretch, but in the end, the Leopards (2-4) lacked the offensive weapons to escape with a win.

Smithsburg managed just 11 field goals in 45 attempts (24 percent), and didn't fare much better from the line, hitting 12 of 25 for the game, and missing five of six in the fourth period.

Howard's 21-point lead entering the second half was trimmed to 33-20 early in the fourth quarter, but the Lions went to a trapping pressure defense and quickly re-established control to advance to the finals.

Howard was led by Nyree Williams with 19 points. Fort Hill was led by Lindsey Fisher with nine points.

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