Hubs downsized in end by Lions

March 04, 2007|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

WALKERSVILLE, Md. - The North Hagerstown girls basketball team figured that the longer it could stay close with undefeated Walkersville, the better its chances would be of pulling off the upset.

The Hubs hung around for almost three quarters Saturday night, but Walkersville's size advantage finally reigned supreme in the final eight minutes and the Lions pulled away for a 55-45 win and the Maryland Class 2A West title.

But North (21-4) didn't drop out of the rear-view mirrors of the Lions (25-0) until April Sparkman's offensive putback put them ahead 46-34 with 3 1/2 minutes left.

"Our goal was to keep it within a basket or two," said Hubs coach Barry Brown. "We thought if we kept the game close we would have a shot because they're the undefeated team. The pressure was on them."


Walkersville, which advanced to the state semifinals, had a delayed reaction to the pressure, but it had an answer when it mattered most.

Cara Thompson hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to pull the Hubs to within 33-30 but the Lions responded by opening the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run and a 39-30 lead. North pulled to within seven points twice before Walkersville hit 10 of its last 13 free throws to seal it.

"Seven points is a three-possession game - much bigger than the one or two-possession game we wanted," Brown said. "It allowed them to get a little bit more comfortable and settle in."

The Lions outrebounded North 13-4 in the fourth quarter with eight on the offensive end. Six-foot-4 forward Samantha Schanuel hauled in seven of her game-high 14 rebounds in the period and she added 11 points. Josie Hildebrand also scored 11 and April Sparkman led the Lions with 18.

"They were getting second and third shots on a lot of their possessions," Brown said. "There's not much you can do when your up against a 6-4 player and a 6-2 player (Jennifer Maggi) and all they have to do is reach up to get the ball."

Walkersville finished with 19 offensive rebounds and beat the Hubs 36-25 on the boards for the game. North never got into the fast-paced style it has grown accustomed to.

"Walkersville's size had some effect, but we had some opportunities to run and we didn't," Brown said. "We could have done a better job of boxing out, but you just can't run the floor when they're getting two and three offensive rebounds each time."

North managed to whether the size disadvantage in the first half as it pulled ahead five times. Neither team's lead grew more than three points, but Walkersville had the last word on a Julia McLellan putback for a 19-18 halftime lead.

After the Hubs tied the game at 24-24 midway through the third quarter, Walkersville reeled off seven straight points - a pair of jump shots by Katelyn Beachy and a 3 by April Sparkman - for a 31-24 lead. Thompson's 3 at the end of the period was the last time the Hubs were within one basket.

"Here we are playing the toughest team in the region - maybe the state - and we hung with them and had a shot," Brown said. "The girls did everything I could have asked. It was a great effort and if I could stand here and pick a new team, I would pick every one of these girls."

Shawayna Morel led the Hubs with 16 points and nine rebounds, Valentina Wheeler scored 13 and Thompson added 12.

The Herald-Mail Articles