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Smith's shot keeps Wildcats on tourney trail

February 28, 2007|by TIM KOELBLE

THURMONT, Md. - They weren't quite ready to have to turn in their uniforms.

The Williamsport girls basketball team lived for at least another game after reaching deep to stun host Catoctin 49-48 on Tuesday night in the Maryland Class 2A West East Sectional semifinals.

The Wildcats earned a sectional final berth opposite Boonsboro on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at North Hagerstown.

Williamsport (14-10) started the celebration and Catoctin (12-10) stood in disbelief after Lindsey Smith scored on a bank shot in the paint with 13.4 seconds remaining before withstanding two challeges by the Cougars to take the victory.

"It's the biggest two points I've ever scored," said the senior.

Smith missed a point-blank shot but her junior sister, Morgan Smith, fought for the rebound. She turned and fed her sister the crucial pass in the paint.

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"We're reading each other's minds at that point," said Lindsey Smith.

Catoctin's Hanna DuBois missed a shot and Morgan Smith, who sustained a bloody nose while hitting the floor, knocked the ball away with 5.1 seconds left.

After a timeout, Bethany Malott was fouled immediately but missed the front end of a 1-and-1. It allowed Catoctin's Ashley Metal to grab the rebound and go end to end for a running jumper that missed at the buzzer.

"I knew we'd come back," said Morgan Smith, who scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

She was prabably one of only a few who thought the Wildcats had a chance after Catoctin's early blitz.

The Cougars nailed their first three shots, including 3-pointers by Tara Stackhouse and DuBois, for an 8-0 lead. It was stretched to 16-4 with 2:13 left in the period, forcing Williamsport coach Chris Malott to call time.

He emphatically asked his players "if you want to go home we can get on the bus and leave right now" during the break.

"Every time we've played down here, we're down 8-0 right away," said Malott. "We just weren't getting any hands in (Catoctin's) faces defensively."

After falling behind 21-10 with 5:05 left in the half, something started to click for the Wildcats.

Morgan Smith scored six points and Leah Mellow scored all five of her points in a 15-7 run to tie the score at 25-25 at the break.

"We finally started to run the offense," said Malott. "We panicked earlier and weren't looking past the first option in the offense."

Morgan Smith didn't cool off in the third period, single-handedly attacking the basket, with an immediate score to give Williamsport the lead en route to a 13-point quarter. The Wildcats stretched the lead to 41-33 by the 1:53 mark, forcing Catoctin coach Amy Murray to call timeout.

"Morgan didn't seem in the game early and we told her to act like she's the best player on the court because we thought she was," said Malott.

The Wildcats led 47-41 with 4:10 remaining before Metal led Catoctin's comeback with five free throws. Lauren Wildasin scored to give the Cougars the 48-47 lead with 42 seconds left to set up the final sequence.

Morgan Smith was 8 of 13 from the floor for the Wildcats, who shot 38 percent. Williamsport also held a 36-24 margin on the boards, with Jess Patey and Lindsey Smith each pulling down six.

Metal ended with 17 for Catoctin, including 10 of 11 from the line along with eight rebounds. Wildasin scored 13 and Stackhouse added 12. The Cougars shot 34 percent and fired up 17 treys, hitting six.

The win avenged Williamport's two regular-season losses to Catoctin, including a 51-49 loss at Thurmont. And in the case of Malott, it also becomes a day when he gets his head shaved.

"The bet was on if we win, the girls do the cutting," said Malott, who will get buzzed following practice today.

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