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Antietam girls race a 4-way dead heat

January 26, 2007|by DAN KAUFFMAN

When it comes to Tri-State area conference championship chases, nothing comes close to the competitiveness of the MVAL Antietam girls race.

About halfway through conference play, half of the league's eight teams - Boonsboro, Catoctin, Williamsport and North Hagerstown - are all tied with 5-1 league records.

But it doesn't end there. Each team sports a 1-1 record against the other three teams, with eight more games between them left to be played.

· No. 4 Boonsboro upset No. 1 North 64-62 at home on Jan. 13.

"That was a great win," Warriors coach Max Shaffer said. "They're probably the best team in the area right now. They have depth, they're quick and they rebound."

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Boonsboro lost on the road at Williamsport, 52-42, on Jan. 5. The Warriors host the Wildcats in the rematch Tuesday that starts a tough three-game stretch that sees them travel to Catoctin on Feb. 2 and host North on Feb. 6. Boonsboro hosts Catoctin on Feb. 16.

Shaffer said the key to the Warriors' success will be having other players elevate their game to support stars Jerica Hewett and Alex Baker.

"We're trying to focus on team play and working together," Shaffer said. "You can't rely on new people. Everyone's playing junk defenses against us a bit to stop Jerica and Alex. The other girls are realizing they need to step up."

· Among the four leaders, the Hubs hold the only road win, earning it by traveling to Catoctin and beating the Cougars 47-39 on Jan. 19.

"I'm not at all surprised in any of the teams and how good they are," North coach Barry Brown said. "It's my opinion that Boonsboro and Williamsport are good enough to win a 1A state championship, and you know Catoctin is going to be competitive because they have great tradition and they have players left over from last year's state championship team. They're just very tough."

Back-to-back road games at Williamsport on Feb. 2 and at Boonsboro four days later will give North its toughest challenge. The Hubs host Catoctin on Feb. 13 and Williamsport on Feb. 19.

"I think all four teams have a shot at it," Brown said. "There's a lot of basketball left to be played. We're going to take it game by game and hope we're ready to play the game we're playing in, and we'll see what happens. We expect every game against any team to be a dogfight at this point."

· No. 6 Williamsport lost on the road at Catoctin 58-44 on Jan. 2 before bouncing back three days later to knock off Boonsboro at home.

"I've always compared the MVAL - on a lower scale, obviously - to the ACC, and home court is huge," Wildcats coach Chris Malott said. "We have a win over Boonsboro at home following the loss at Catoctin, where we lacked emotion and hustle. ... It was a different team (against Boonsboro)."

The Wildcats host Catoctin tonight, travel to Boonsboro on Tuesday and finish their tough three-game swing by hosting North on Feb. 2. Williamsport travels to North in its regular-season finale Feb. 19.

"We better be ready," Malott said. "You've got to get off the bus ready to play. On road trips, when they get off that bus, I'm not sure they're ready. You've got to hold home court just like the ACC."

Of concern for Williamsport is the health of leading scorer and rebounder Morgan Smith, who left Tuesday's game against Smithsburg with a lower back injury.

"She fell the other night, and when I went out to get her, I moved her leg and she winced," Malott said. "All the X-rays were negative, she practiced (Thursday) and we expect her to play today."

A memorable evening

No one who was inside Chambersburg's gym Tuesday night is likely to forget the events that took place.

The No. 2 Trojans girls team (10-6, 7-5 Mid-Penn Commonwealth) upset Trinity (14-3, 9-2) on Steph Addleman's putback with five seconds left, 38-37. Logan Lentz scored 18 points - and passed the 1,000-point milestone in the process.

"I think for Logan, it was a fun experience that she had the opportunity to get 1,000 and to get it at home," Chambersburg coach Brad Rideout said. "But the cherry on the top of the banana split is that she got it in a win. She would have enjoyed it, but it wouldn't have meant as much if it hadn't come with a 'W.'"

Lentz leads the team in scoring (15.5 points per game) and also averages 3.2 steals and 3.0 assists per game.

"I ask her to do a lot," Rideout said. "She's either on the other team's best or second-best player, and I ask her to be the point guard and be the leading scorer."

Addleman finished with 13 points and eight rebounds as the Trojans knocked Trinity out of a first-place tie in the conference.

"That was one of the good things about being at home, was the crowd was really into it," Rideout said. "That was a big win for this program, I believe it's only the second or third time Chambersburg's ever beaten Trinity, and it was a big win for this team. Trinity beat us by 10 up there, but the girls believed in themselves and in each other. They know if they play a good game, they're going to be tough to beat."

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